(Photo: Nick Wicksman/WCSN)
The Arizona State University Gym Devils will travel to Utah this weekend for Pac-12 Championships and will enter the meet as the 8-seed in the conference.
This season has been a tough one for the Gym Devils as they finished with a record of 2-11. ASU has had a challenging schedule this year, facing some of the best teams in the nation including conference rivals Utah, UCLA and Oregon State. Due to their competitive schedule, ASU currently has a RQS of 194.425. However, the Gym Devils are No. 3 in the nation when solely based on their strength of schedule and their resulting performances in each meet.
One of the stand out gymnasts for the Gym Devils this season was junior Taylor Allex who transferred from Utah this year. Allex found herself competing in the all-around for ASU and, as a result, received some of the highest scores for the team, including two career-bests against Stanford – a 9.900 on vault and 9.850 on beam.
This year has been a rebuilding season for the Gym Devils with the retirement of head coach John Spini, a 34-year veteran in Tempe. ASU started off the season with new head coach René Lyst and only one athlete addition (Taylor Allex). Arizona State’s roster is filled with many juniors and sophomores; therefore, having a team full of experienced gymnasts should give them an advantage next year. Lyst will also bring in four gymnasts in her first recruiting class that are bound to make an immediate impact for the Devils. The Gym Devils will graduate just three current members of the squad this year.
It’s been the story all season long – Arizona State has been plagued with a multitude of injuries. On March 6 against Southern Utah, the Gym Devils had so many injuries that they were only able to field six gymnasts in the entire meet, and sent up four gymnasts in three of the events. Junior Carissa Kraus suffered a lower leg injury in the off-season and was not able to compete on vault until Feb. 16 against Arizona. Senior Morgan Steigerwalt and sophomore Kellie Wanamaker did not see the floor this season at all due to injuries of their own.
I predict the Gym Devils will have the performance of their season and avoid coming in last in the Pac-12. They are coming in healthy (for the most part) and throughout the season they have shown perseverance. Washington is seeded one place above ASU and is a very young team with nearly as many losses. I believe if the Devils come out motivated and make minimal mistakes in Salt Lake City, they have a chance to take 7th place for the second straight year.
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