(Photos: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
The No. 17 Arizona State gymnastics team (5-3, 2-2 Pac-12) fought hard against the national powerhouse and reigning Pac-12 champions but ultimately came up short against the No. 2 Utah Red Rocks (7-1, 4-0 Pac-12), 197.075-195.400, Friday night in the Huntsman Center.
The Sun Devils improved their team score from last week but failed to score an individual score above a 9.90 or surpass a 49.0 event total on every event but floor where they earned a 49.075. After the injury last week from lone senior Nichelle Christopherson, ASU relied on three-time Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week Cairo Leonard-Baker to lead this team against a tough Utah squad.
Arizona State began its meet on the uneven bars, where they had a slightly rocky start. The Gym Devils tallied a 48.650 after a fall from sophomore Ashley Szafranski. The Sun Devils were able to recover well with clean performances from junior transfers Kaitlyn Szafranski and Anne Kuhm who recorded a pair of 9.775s, a career-high for K. Szafranski. Leonard-Baker’s sky-high stuck full-in dismount capped off the event with an impressive 9.875 and the third-place event title.
Utah started its night off on vault where they went six-for-six recording a team cumulative 49.300. Current No. 4 all-arounder junior MaKenna Merrel-Gilles and No. 5 all-arounder sophomore MyKayla Skinner led the Utes going 9.875 and 9.900, respectively.
ASU showed improvement on vault hitting six clean yurchenko fulls. Morgan Wilson led the Gym Devils with a powerful yurchenko full scoring a 9.825. Kuhm also had a clean vault to earn a 9.800. Junior Katelyn Lentz and sophomore Jessica Ginn received a pair of 9.750s to notch a team total of 48.850.
Trailing the Red Rocks in the third rotation 98.550-97.500, ASU moved to the floor where Lentz, Ginn, and K. Szafranski started the Gym Devils off strong with three 9.775s. Kuhm’s clean and energetic floor routine notched an impressive 9.875, tying her career-high. Leonard-Baker’s powerful tumbling closed out the rotation with her own 9.875.
Utah headed to the beam where they suffered a fall from Merrell-Gilles. However, the Utes overcame the fall with solid routines from Missy Reinstadtler and Kari Lee who scored a pair of 9.850s. Skinner anchored the squad with a 9.900.
After three events, Utah lead ASU 147.775-145.575. The Gym Devils closed their night on the balance beam where they finished strong with multiple stuck dismounts. Junior Heather Udowitch lead the squad posting a season-high 9.800. Kuhm, Lentz, and junior Justine Callis showcased clean routines to record three 9.775s.
Utah finished on the floor where they are currently the No. 1 team in the nation. Tiffani Lewis and Merrel-Gilles led the Utes with a 9.900 and 9.925. Skinner’s powerful and difficult tumbling closed out the meet with a near perfect routine, scoring a 9.950.
In the race for the all-around, Skinner and Lee went one and two with a 39.675 and 39.425, respectively. Kuhm earned the third place title for the Gym Devils with a 39.225 followed closely by teammate Leonard-Baker with a 39.200.
Up next, the Gym Devils will be back in action next week as they head home to Wells Fargo Arena to take on the No. 16 Washington Huskies. The meet will air live on Pac-12 Networks Saturday, Feb. 17, at 11:30 a.m. MST.