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ASU Gymnastics: Gym Devils continue to improve, but No. 5 Utah shines

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

Arizona State continued to improve but ultimately fell to No. 5 Utah at home 197.600-194.850.

The Gym Devils’ roster is comprised of 13 freshman and sophomores.  By any measure, this is a very young team, and tonight it squared off against an experienced Utah squad ranked No. 5 in the nation.

ASU got off to a rocky start on the vault with freshman Graycee Rushton falling on her dismount, leaving her with a 9.050.

Despite the slow start the Devils were able to pick it up hitting a season best with a 48.725.

Sophomore Corinne Belkoff helped come back for the Devils tying her season high with a 9.750. Freshman Jessica Ginn also hit a season-high score with a 9.825, even while competing with a tweaked ankle.

“My ankle actually felt really good,” Ginn said. “It felt great to get my season high today, I hope to keep improving.

The Utes got off to a strong on the uneven bars with two Arizona natives scoring high. Freshman MyKayla Skinner, the 2016 Olympic alternate for the U.S. team, earned a season-best 9.950 and redshirt sophomore Kari Lee hit an all-time high with a 9.975.

Rushton struggled leading off for ASU again on bars. She broke form on her first release on the high bar and then again on the low bar, failing to hit her handstand.

The Gym Devils continued to have trouble with sophomore Eileen Imbus falling on her dismount leaving her with a 9.250.

Freshman Ashley Szafranski was a bright spot on the bars for the Gym Devils hitting a 9.850.

On the second rotation for Utah, Skinner hit a clean Yurchenko double full to win the vault with a score of 9.900, remaining undefeated for the season on the apparatus.

Senior Bailey Rowe and junior Tiffani Lewis followed close behind both earning scores of 9.850 for the Utes.

At the halfway point of the meet, the young Gym Devil team trailed the Utes by 1.400.

On the balance beam ASU freshman Justine Callis lead the team off with a 9.750, sticking her landing after a solid routine.

Senior Beka Conrad came into this meet after a season-high 9.850 last week, but had a few wobbles that left her with a 9.750. Sophomore Heather Udowitch, who is still coming back from shoulder surgery, preformed a solid routine with minimal tumbling that required her arms which earned her a season high 9.775.

Szafranski added another solid routine to the team score, finishing with a distinctive side dismount and earning a 9.775.

Junior Nichelle Christopherson anchored the Gym Devils sticking her landing after another solid dismount, incorporating one and a half twists and scoring 9.825.Utah took the floor in the third rotation, ranked No. 5 in the country on the apparatus after losing only to Oregon State. Even that single loss was by the slimmest of margins at only .175.

Utah took the floor in the third rotation, ranked No. 5 in the country on the apparatus after losing only to Oregon State. Even that single loss was by the slimmest of margins at only 0.175.

Tonight was no different with a series of solid performances. Sophomore transfer Macey Roberts had another strong routine contributing 9.850 to the score before 2016 floor champion Tiffani Lewis added a season-high 9.925 to the Red Rocks team score.

Sophomore MaKenna Merrell, who won the floor last weekend against UCLA, struggled after falling in her second pass and ended with the Utes lowest score on floor with a 8.975. Skinner gave another leading performance adding a 9.950 to the team score on floor.

The Gym Devils came out slightly flat on their final apparatus of the meet and continued to post low scores throughout.

Freshman Mekayla Jones started out with a 9.675. Belkoff came next with a routine that has matured over the course of the season, closing with a solid final tumbling pass and a score of 9.750.

Callis was in the three spot for the Gym Devils and struggled on the landing after her first pass leaving her with a low score of 9.600. Lentz followed Callis and stuck the landing on every pass earning a 9.825, just shy of her season best.

Ginn took the floor for Arizona State in the anchor position. Ginn turned in a solid routine earning a 9.725 in her first competition at home after recovering from an ankle injury.

Utah took on the beam for the final rotation opening the apparatus with three 9.825s in a row before Skinner came up for Utah closing with a double tuck in her dismount and a 9.950.

Lee continued her solid night adding a 9.850 to the score after a clean routine.

Bailey Rowe, ranked No. 6 in the country on the beam, anchored for the team earning a 9.925.

The Gym Devils will travel to Tucson next to face the University of Arizona. The meet will air on Pac-12 Network and is slated for 1 p.m.

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