LIVE BLOG: No. 13 Arizona State at No. 25 Minnesota

The matchup of gorgeous bars and beam is upon us! Arizona State and Minnesota share fairly similar narratives this year. Both have struggled in recent seasons, and have really broken out in 2018 under the leadership of two superstar freshmen. ASU’s Cairo Leonard-Baker and Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler are each having lights out debut seasons. Neither has scored lower than 39.0 in the all around this year – both notched that score week one and have been better every week since – and both have competed all four in every meet. Ramler is especially strong on bars and beam, while Leonard-Baker’s best are bars and floor. Watch for these two to battle for the all around title; Leonard-Baker has a slim edge, but Ramler is at home. It should be close.

Of course, this isn’t just an all around contest! Both teams are stacked with talent. Minnesota’s Ivy Lu is an excellent bar and beam worker. She has been close to a 10.000 on bars several weeks, and hit a perfect mark on beam two weeks ago at the GymQuarters matinee session. Ona Loper is another standout for the Gophers, especially on vault where her Yurchenko one and a half is big and clean. For ASU, junior transfer and French elite favorite Anne Kuhm is a star. She recently reworked her bar composition, and has excelled on the event since. She has also broken out on vault and floor in recent weeks. If Ramler and Leonard-Baker falter in the all around, Kuhm could steal the title. The Sun Devils have remained strong after losing Nichelle Christopherson to an ankle injury against Oregon State – her absence is felt, but because the team has so much talent, team totals have not suffered without her. ASU has an edge in this contest; the team scores in the 196s more consistently than Minnesota, and has hit bigger totals, plus Minnesota has under-performed the past two weeks. The Gophers are at home, though, and should not be underestimated. Plus, this is the Gophers’ senior night, so emotions will be high. This is should be an excellent meet!

Injury Report: ASU’s Nichelle Christopherson remains out with an ankle injury. Minnesota’s Paige Williams was absent from the floor lineup last week where she is usually a staple. However, she is not known to be injured.

Update as of today: Minnesota’s Ona Loper is injured and will miss the remainder of the season.

While we’re waiting for the stream to pick up, a note about Minnesota sans Loper. Her absence will be felt on vault and floor. Expect to see senior Abby DeMuse get added to vault, and perhaps Paige Williams back on floor. Williams was out of that lineup last week, but will be crucial if the Gophers are going to not miss a step.

It’s 4:02 ct, and we don’t have the stream going yet. My constant Big Ten refrain applies: nothing ever starts on time. Here’s hoping someday BTN/BTN+ will learn from SECN and make these duals more timely and efficient. Until then, we wait.

Rotation 1: Minnesota vault, ASU bars

Stream just started, we missed Lexi Montgomery’s vault. 9.75

Morgan Wilson (ASU): Giant full, bling + Straddle Jaeger, some leg form, bail handstand, fine. Nice last handstand. Giant full + double tuck, step. 9.825

Ciara Gardner (Minn.): FTY, little archy and a tiny hop. 9.75

LOVE the graphics here, running scores on the side with preloaded lineups, and a running total for each team at the bottom. A+.

Justine Callis (ASU): Very long wait. Short first handstand, Tkatchev, low, archy bail hand. Double lay, bounces on toes and has to hop. 9.6, hit on the handstands and bail.

Kristen Quaglia (Minn.): FTY, nice amplitude, small hop. 9.8

Katelyn Szafranski (ASU): Pretty lines! Big Ray, clear hip hand + crazy leg bail, and short. Nice last handstand. Giant full legs + double tuck stuck. Little messy. 9.775

Hannah Hitchcock (Minn.): FTY leg sep on table, big step back. 9.775

Ashley Szafranski (ASU): Back to back sisters I like it. Another very long wait. These bar judges are taking their time. LINES AND TOES. Maloney + pak, some feet sep on the pak, toe on half, Double lay, stuck, nice. 9.9

Lexy Ramler (Minn.): FTY, GORGEOUS in the air, teeny hop, they could give her the stick if being generous. 9.85

Anne Kuhm (ASU): So happy she has new composition.Hop change + Jaeger, big. Toe hand, bail hand, lovely. Double lay tiny step. Lovely legs throughout. 9.875

Abby DeMuse (Minn.): Ylay, bounces back. Nice to see her in the lineup on her senior night. 9.55

Cairo Leonard-Baker (ASU): Great first handstand, HUGE Ray, Bail hand good, her AWESOME pike toe shoot, massive FTDB, stuck. One of her best sets, which is saying something. 9.875, I would have thought she’d be higher purely for her excellent amplitude.

ASU, exhibition: HUGE Tkatchev, but loses her swing, she hit her foot, WILD bail hand, archy and legs. DLO, small step. Good fight, she could’ve come off twice but muscled through.

After 1: Minnesota: 48.925; ASU: 49.25

Minnesota felt the Loper loss here. A 9.7 start value in place of a 10.000 is tough. ASU will be happy with that start, though.

Rotation 2: Minnesota bars, ASU vault

K. Szafranski (ASU): FTY, high, nice landing. 9.775

Selena Ung (Minn.): Blind + Jaeger, some toes. Bail hand, little loose. Nice last handstand. DLO small hop forward.

Jessica Ginn (ASU): FTY, sloppy legs on table, stuck cold. 9.825

Quaglia (Minn.): Hect mount, Blind + piked Jaeger + bail, some legs. Giant full + double back. She could tighten knees throughout.

Kuhm (ASU): FTY straight body, tiny hop. 9.775

Rachel Rowland (Minn.): Long wait again. These bars judges, man. Nice first handstand, blind + big Jaeger + bail. Stalder + toe on front stuck. Great routine for her on her senior night. 9.875, deserved.

Leonard-Baker (ASU): Huge FTY, opens it up, just a step back. 9.8

Hitchcock (Minn.): Clear hip hand + Geinger, love the combo. Bail hand, solid and pretty. Half in half out, stuck. Great lines! Another great senior night routine. 9.925, also deserved. Gophers on fire.

Wilson (ASU): Pops her FTY up high, too much power, has to step back. 9.775

Ramler (Minn.): Shaposh, pretty, pak, gorgeous. Shaposh half, toe hand + half in half out, small hop. Gorgeous. 9.675, not sure on that. Announcers speculating there will be an inquiry.

Graycee Rushton (ASU): FTY, tucked, small step, not great amplitude. 9.675

Ivy Lu (Minn.): She’s capable of huge numbers here. Perfect first handstand, toe hand + shaposh + pak, lovely. DLO, stuck cold. Excellent. 9.95

Rotation 2: Minnesota 49.25; ASU 48.95

After 2: Minnesota 98.175; ASU 98.175

Could not be closer after two. Vault scoring was a little tight for both teams, but scores were not absurdly low. Judges were strict on form on the table and amplitude. Minnesota put up a solid six. I have questions about that Ramler score. The camera angle isn’t great for bars, but it looked at least 9.8-quality to me. We’ll see what happens. ASU is looking strong and powerful. This one will likely stay close!

Lindsay Mable is a guest on the broadcast. She’ll be commentating at the Big Five meet at Rutgers. Hearing that Big Tens at Illinois will be on podium, which is new. Previously we heard Illinois wouldn’t put it on podium.

Rotation 3: Minnesota beam, ASU floor

Montgomery (Minn.): Bhs loso, some back knee in both. Good presence on the beam. Beat + straddle half + tuck, nice. Front tuck, solid. RO 1.5, some knees, step forward. 9.775

Callis (ASU): Sass right off the top, love it. Double pike, feet, good landing. 2.5 twist, nice. Switch ring + split half + drop split, fun! 1.5 punch layout, nice. Good leadoff. 9.8

Mary Korlin-Downs (Minn.): Gorgeous control and patience. Side aerial bhs, solid, love that series. Beat + split + split 3/4, little shy of 180 on the 3/4. Cat leap gainer full, solid. Great routine. 9.75 feels a little low.

Heather Udowitch (ASU): Double pike, over does it and big step back. Switch ring + tour jete + wolf full, little wild on the wolf. FHS rudi, nice. Not super engaging choreo; she could perform more. 1.5 + punch pike, very low. 9.625

Ung (Minn.): Bhs loso, nice. Great releve. Cat leap + straddle quarter, nice splits. Hitch + side aerial, completely solid. Bhs gainer full, great landing. 9.85

Ginn (ASU): Front through to a double tuck, bounces up out of the landing a little. Really showing off the choreo. Switch side popa, nice. Front lay barani, fine, some arch in the lay. Double pike, slightly uncontrolled into the lunge. They could take .1.

Lu (Minn.): Bhs loso, little off line, has to pick her foot up. Swithc + straddle half, another bobble. Double turn, lovely. Side some, waves her arms some. She’s just off. Cartwheel gainer full, hop but covers with the salute.

K. Szafranski (ASU): Double pike, huge, big step, might have gone out? Double tuck, really open and lands low, steps forward. Real ankle cruncher. Tour jete half popa, nice. Pretty lines! 1.5 front lay, love her body position in the lay. 9.875

Gardner (Minn.): Wolf turn. Front aerial  bhs loso, tiny check. Split + double stag, gorgeous split position. Hitch + gainer full, step back tries to hide it by saluting. 9.8

Kuhm (ASU): Whip + double tuck, great chest up landing. 1.5 front full + front tuck, double stag. Switch ring + split half, pretty. 2.5, great twisting position. 9.875

Ramler (Minn.): The prettiest toe point. Bhs loso, solid. Great fluidity in this routine. Front aerial + wolf, high and nice. Beat + ring jump, low front leg. Side aerial + full, stuck. Lovely. 9.95, yes. I agree. Some redemption for bars.

Corinne Belkoff (ASU): Double pike, chest a bit low. 1.5 + front pike, nice. Switch side + popa, hit the split at a weird point in the popa, not a deduction necessarily just looked a little funky. 1.5 + layout, nice landing. 9.85

Rachel Cutler (Minn. – exhibition): Bhs loso solid. Cat + side aerial big bobble, turns sideways but stays on. Beat + split 3/4, not 180. Gainer pike off the end, some knees on the takeoff.

Maya Williams (ASU – exhibition): Double tuck, big, hop back. Wolf full, front leg a little low. Missed her jump series. 1.4 + front lay, nice.

Rotation 3: Minnesota 49.125, ASU 29.25

After 3: Minnesota 147.3, ASU 147.45

ASU managed to pull away a little bit there with a clean floor rotation. Not sure why we didn’t see Leonard-Baker there, but she’s in the beam lineup, so assuming she was getting a bit of a rest. Minnesota can be excellent on floor, so the Gophers could close the gap.

Well this just got even closer!

Rotation 4: Minnesota floor, ASU beam

A child in the crowd has a huge, sparkly “CAIRO” poster, full of photos of Leonard-Baker. I love it.

Leonard-Baker (ASU): Split huge + loso, solid. Beat + straddle 3/4, maybe a little shy of 180. Fun choreo down on the beam. Bhs loso, some knees. RO 1.5, stuck. Excellent. 9.825

Cutler (Minn.): Fun, bouncy choreo. Front lay front full, nice, little arch. Tour jete half split full. Rudi, nice. Double back, stuck, doesn’t lunge, chest a bit low. 9.85

Udowich (ASU): Front aerial bhs. Gorgeous lines. Great patience. Cat + front toss, solid. Side aerial + full dismount, solid landing. Nice set. 9.75

Julia Hubert (Minn.): In for Ung. Front lay knees front full. Switch side popa, fine. Wolf full sort of falls out of it? Not sure that’ll get credit. 1.5 front lay, not enough and she falls. 8.975

Kuhm (ASU): Bhs loso, chest low wobble. Front aerial + beat, pretty. Like doing that series in that order. Switch. Split + ring. Think she broke a connection and added the split there. RO double full, small shuffle. 9.75

Montgomery (Minn.): Double pike, chest a tiny bit low, but otherwise great. Switch side popa, little shy on the popa rotation. Front lay front full, some knees. Huge dive roll, that’s fun. 1.5 front lay, knees, slides her feet a touch. 9.725

Wilson (ASU): Bhs loso, bent arms in the bhs but solid. She is slow and methodical in her movements. Switch, back leg low. Split low back leg + tuck full, broke a connection there. Front toss + beat, nice. Gainer layout full, good landing. 9.825

Gardner (Minn.): FHS rudi loso, nice, some legs in the rudi. Switch half + split full. Double tuck, massive! Tour jete to split on the floor, very cool. The seniors are on tonight! 9.9

A. Szafranski (ASU): Front aerial + bhs swing down. Side aerial. Long pretty lines. Switch + split, lovely legs and toes. Bhs 1/1 swing down. Gainer full, tiny foot shuffle. 9.825

Ramler (Minn.): Ring 1/1, pretty. Double pike, big, little uncontrolled on the landing. Stag 1/1. Gorgeous dance and presence. 1.5 front lay nice. Switch ring, switch half. Double tuck, good landing. Excellent routine. 9.9

Callis (ASU): Pretty mount from handstand on the end (see this blog’s header photo!). Bhs bhs loso, completely solid. So much control. Split + double stag, bobble. Fhs to knees. Gorgeous scale. This routine is so packed with originality. Side aerial + full dismount, great landing. 9.85

Paige Williams (Minn.): Front 2/1, gorgeous, drops the landing right in. Switch side popa, some wild arms in the popa. 1.5 front lay, high and nailed. Fhs rudi, small step. Great amplitude in that routine. 9.9

ASU exhibition: Beat + tuck full, huge bobble stays on. Bhs loso, solid. Front tuck, no problems. Switch + split low back leg. Front full, step back.

Rotation 4: Minnesota 49.275; ASU 49.075

FINAL: Minnesota 196.675, ASU 196.525

Phew, the Gophers just edged the Sun Devils in the fourth. What an exciting ending. Those three final 9.9s on floor were excellent routines. Beam scores were tight for ASU, but they did give some away with little wobbles here and there. Overall, both teams will be happy with this performance. ASU will take that away score, and the Gophers getting the upset at home on senior night had the Maturi Pavillion screaming.

Event Winners: 
VT: Ramler, 9.85
UB: Lu, 9.95
BB: Ramler, 9.95
FX: Gardner, Ramler, Williams, 9.9
AA: 1. Ramler, 39.375; 2. Kuhm, 39.275

Live blog by Emily Minehart

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