For the Arizona Wildcats, Saturday’s gymnastics meet with Arizona State will have an aura of deja vu surrounding it.
The stage had been set for a Territorial Cup rivalry meet between two nationally-ranked gymnastics teams – until Arizona State was dropped from the Top 25 after a loss to Washington last week.
That means No. 15 Arizona will be taking on un-ranked ASU. That’s the exact scenario when the two teams met last year in January – and the Sun Devils upset their ranked opponents, 195.875 – 194.350, despite Arizona taking first place in all four events.
That was the first of two meetings between the Pac-12 rivals last season. Arizona was able to win the second to even the Territorial Cup points for the year, but that meet came down to the final event of the night, the floor exercises. Arizona posted a score of 48.925 to win the event, and the meet.
Both teams scored their best totals of the season in that second meeting, and that’s something that could easily happen again Saturday because of the intensity of the rivalry.
Arizona is coming off a second-place finish in a tri-meet with Oregon State and Seattle Pacific. A fall during the beam performance cost the Cats a chance to hold off Oregon State, finishing at 194.900 to OSU’s 196.825. Aubree Cristello posted the team’s highest score of the night in the final event, the vault, hitting 9.900. But it wasn’t enough to overtake the Beavers.
The senior will be back again for Saturday’s rivalry meet. Last year, she won the all-around in the Arizona win.
The ASU gymnasts probably still have the crowd noise ringing in their ears from their last meet after drawing the largest crowd in the history of the program (3,053) as the Gym Devils hosted Washington in a co-ed meet that included the men’s club team. Wells Fargo Arena was rocking as the women’s team swept the titles in every event.
Brianna Gades, a sophomore from Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, led the Devils with strong performances in bars, beam, and floor. She took second place in both floor and beam, and tied for runner-up in bars with a career-best mark of 9.875.
But it wasn’t enough to beat a deep Huskies’ team that finished the night with a 196.000 total, just shading ASU’s 195.500.
That was the fifth straight mark above 195.000 for the Gym Devils, who have been able to rely on strong beam performances. They topped the 49.000 mark in the beam competition for the second straight time in the meet with Washington and are ranked No. 19 in the country in that event.
So ASU will roll into Tucson in a couple of days with some momentum.
And Arizona will have to try to avoid a repeat of last year’s first meeting.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)