Pac-12 Chalk Chatter: Arizona State vs Utah

No. 3 Utah at No. 16 Arizona State

Rotation 1

Arizona State – The Gym Devils started out hot right from the start, opening the meet up with a huge yurchenko full from freshman Jada Mangahas. With a stuck landing, she put up a career-best 9.85 to set the tone. Freshmen Emily White and Cassi Barbanente both followed with career-highs of their own, posting a pair of 9.825s on the same vault as Mangahas. Sophomore Hannah Scharf and senior Cairo Leonard-Baker kicked it up a notch on their Yurchenko fulls, both putting up 9.9’s to match their career-bests before freshman Anaya Smith rounded the vault lineup out with a Yurchenko full and a half for a 9.875. 

Vault total: Arizona State drops one of the 9.825s for a total of 49.350, the fourth-highest vault score across the nation this year so far and the Sun Devil’s best since 2006. 

Utah – Sophomore Abby Paulson got the Utes started on bars with a solid 9.85 in the lead-off spot before suffering a fall from Alani Sabado. Sabado had issues with the dowel on her grip getting caught on the bar, causing her to rip off the low bar during the underswing following her release move from the high bar to the low bar. Finishing the routine strong, she still managed to put up a 9.2. 

The pressure was immediately cranked up for the Utes for the remainder of the line-up, knowing everyone had to hit. However, Utah answered with a trio of 9.825’s from sophomore Maile O’keefe and seniors Alexia Burch and Emilie LeBlanc. Crystal Isa stepped up big-time for the Utes, putting up a 9.9 in the anchor position to close out the first rotation. 

Bars total: Utah drops the 9.2 following the fall from Sabado for a total of 49.225

Rotation 2

Utah – Isa was in another critical spot for the Utes, this time leading off the vault lineup. Isa had a beautiful Yurchenko layout full for a 9.85 to start things off, followed by a 9.9 by O’Keefe on the exact same vault, marking a new career-high for O’Keefe. Freshman Lucy Stanhope and junior Cammy Hall scored 9.875 and 9.85 respectively on their Yurchenko layout full and a half before Burch put up a monstrous 9.975 for another career-high on the night. Sophomore Jaedyn Rucker rounded out the vault lineup with a 9.875 after taking a bit of a step to the side on her Yurchenko full and a half. 

Vault total: Utah drops one of the 9.85’s for a 49.475

Running total after two events: 98.700

Arizona State – Sophomore Gracie Reeves got her first glimpse at the action of the day on bars, where she opened the rotation with a 9.75 for the Sun Devils. Scharf, who has emerged this season as the next leader of the Sun Devil squad, matched her career high of a 9.875. Sophomore Juliette Boyer was able to continue to build on the momentum her team had set, posting her career-best of a 9.925. 

White followed with a solid 9.8 of her own before freshman Sarah Clark made herself known to the Utes with her first performance of the day. Clark fed off the energy and was able to match her own career-high with a 9.9 before Leondard-Baker rounded out the night with a 9.875. 

Bars total: Arizona State drops the 9.75 from Reeves for a total of 49.375

Running total after two events: 98.725

Rotation 3

Arizona State – Junior Megan Thompson led the beam rotation off for the Sun Devils once again, showing why she’s in the position as she was able to straighten out a beautiful triple-series as she was tumbling down the beam to avoid a fall. Thompson had a well-executed, clean routine for a 9.8. Mangahas and Reeves both struggled with some small balance checks, resulting in a 9.75 and 9.775 respectively. 

White and Clark were both able to slow things down a bit for the Sun Devils, who seemed to almost be feeding a little too much off the energy from the start of the meet, with back-to-back clean routines to go 9.825 and 9.85. Scharf rounded out the lineup and fought for every tenth of her routine after nearly falling on her side summy. She managed to stay on and still posted a 9.775 despite the mistake. 

Beam total: The Sun Devils drop Mangahas’ 9.75 for a 49.025

Running total after three events: 147.750

Utah – Paulson opened up the floor rotation for the Utes with an unfortunate step out of bounds on her first tumbling pass, a roundoff back handspring two and a half twist, posting only a 9.7. However, Utah’s dominance on floor shined through as the scores continued to climb through the remainder of the rotation. Junior Adrienne Randall went second, posting a 9.825, followed by Stanhope with a 9.875 and Rucker with a career-high 9.9, opening her routine with a huge, open full-in. O’Keefe followed with a nearly flawless routine, posting a 9.95, before senior Syndey Soloski closed out the rotation with a 9.9. 

Floor total: Paulson’s 9.7 was dropped for a 49.425

Running total after three events: 148.125

Rotation 4

Utah – Utah owned the beam, opening things up with a 9.85 from Burch. Stanhope and Isa both posted 9.825 and Randall a 9.8000 in the middle of the line-up as the Utes continued to build towards another dominating performance. Utah capped off the beam rotation with a 9.875 from O’Keefe and a humongous 9.95 from Paulson. 

Beam Total: Utah drops Randall’s 9.800 for a 49.325

Running total: 197.450

Arizona State – As the Sun Devils warmed up for their final rotation, you could tell they were locked in. Reeves started off the floor lineup with a career-best 9.850 helping to bring the energy to the lineup. Clark continued to shine, posting a career-best of her own, with a 9.875. Boyer had a bit of an issue on her first pass in her floor routine, supposed to be a punch front layout to a punch front rudi, but after getting lost in the air, she only did a tucked front full, resulting in a 9.575. 

That turned the intensity up for the rest of the ASU lineup, knowing they had to hit. It was no issue, though, as Mangahas stepped on to the floor to tie her career-high 9.85. Scharf followed, posting a career-best 9.925 as she closed out yet another incredible competition. Leonard-Baker rounded out the lineup on floor, posting a 9.900 for the Sun Devils to close out their best floor rotation of the year. 

Floor total: ASU drops Boyer’s 9.575 for a season-best 49.400

Running total: 197.150

Recap and takeaways

Arizona State – The Devils brought the heat as they kicked the intensity into the next gear against Utah. From the first rotation, it was clear that the Sun Devils had been working on attention to detail and technique, as they were able to make some minor but also much-needed corrections throughout the week. Arizona State increased the number of stuck landings, and the girls were getting good height and distance off the table.

Bars, the Sun Devils strongest event, still has small rooms for slight improvements, such as tightening up their form and focusing on hitting every single handstand. 

Beam has been a work in progress for the Sun Devils this year, yet no singular meet has been particularly terrible for them on that event. As the season continues to unfold, they’ll begin focusing on the fine details like execution and continuing to stick dismounts. 

Each week, the Sun Devils have switched around the floor lineup as they’ve continued to work towards a stronger total. They’ve cleaned up their landings, and time will tell if we see more girls work on upgrading their tumbling pass to increase the level of difficulty. 

Utah – It’s been a bit of an odd year for Utah, as they’re without key contributor MyKayla Skinner while she’s redshirting to focus on the Olympics. The Utes started off with a solid bar rotation, but still has room to clean up their dismount landings. After the first event, the Utes were trailing the Sun Devils, something uncharacteristic of this team. 

However, Utah quickly worked to rally back, posting a season-best 49.475 on vault with their amplitude and their clean landings. Embracing the power from vault, the Red Rocks kept it rolling on floor with their beautiful dance and powerful tumbling to spring past the Sun Devils going into the final rotation. 

Making some adjustments to the line-up, Utah’s decision to move Burch into the lead-off spot ultimately paid off. Burch was able to set the tone for the Utes to get the job done and close out the competition. 

What’s next for each team

Arizona State – The Gym Devils will look to thrive once again on Sunday when they face off against Cal at 3 p.m. (M.T.) in Berkeley. 
Utah – Utah is sidelined until Feb. 19 when they take on the UCLA Bruins at home on ESPNU at 7 p.m. (M.T.)

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