Kahoku Palafox and Amelia Rew said good bye to their home careers as members of the Arizona State gymnastics team Friday with a victory over Bridgeport at Wells Fargo Arena, 196.025- 195.725.
The Sun Devils earned their best uneven bars score of the season, a 49.225, while Rew posted her career high in her final home meet. Palafox tied Brianna Gades for the high score (9.875), while Rew and Stephanie Miceli (both 9.85) and Carissa Kraus (9.775) were just behind, as ASU broke past 49 points for the first time in 2013. Leah Goldberg was the highest Purple Knight at 9.775, and the team finished at 48.750.
“You know where the score’s going to come out, but sometimes it’s where you put those kids,” ASU coach John Spini said, regarding the order of who competes. “We’re making some good decisions right now. Uneven bars were really exciting after we faltered on vault. After Amelia hit that set, it gave them energy, and they lit it up.”
Bridgeport, as in Connecticut, took the vault competition (49.225- 48.625), as Sasha Tsikhanovich vaulted a 9.9 and Barcelona’s Monica Mesalles Sallares a 9.875, while junior Samantha Seaman led the Gym Devils with a 9.85 in her first appearance this season after an ankle injury.
“I am so happy I was able to come back for the team,” Seaman said. “I always want to be competing, I just haven’t had the chance. I want to be back in all-around like I was last year.”
On the balance beam, Gades recorded a 9.85, with three Sun Devils at 9.775: Palafox, Miceli and Risa Perez, as the team totaled a 48.925. Lissette LeFex led Bridgeport (48.775) with a 9.8, while senior Chelsea Matteson from Phoenix’s Mountain Ridge High School scored a 9.775. Sophomore Harley Jensen (Gilbert/Highland HS) competed in exhibition, as did Rew.
Natasha Sundby knocked out the highest Sun Devil score of the evening on the final routine, with a 9.9 performance on the floor that pushed her team to a 49.25 -48.975 edge. Mesalles Sallares and Tsikhanovich tied for the Bridgeport high with 9.875s, while ASU freshmen Allie Salas and Alex Cope were just behind with 9.85s.
Palafox, who missed the 2011 season with a knee injury, graduated last year with a degree in sustainability and is working on her master’s in urban planning. The Kailua, Hawaii, native just completed a report with the Green Sports Alliance on Sun Devil Athletics and said she wants to attend a conference with the organization in August. Rew, from Mitchell, S.D., will be graduating with a bio-science degree
“I think it hasn’t hit me yet,” Palafox said of her career ending. “It’s been unbelievable. It was so worth it, an amazing experience. Even though I got hurt, all of the pain and the surgery and rehab was totally worth it, I wouldn’t ask for anything else.”
In addition to Matteson and Jensen, the Purple Knights also boasted junior Zahra Stamps from Phoenix’s Liberty High School.
ASU next heads to the Pacific-12 Conference Championships March 23 in Corvallis, Ore., where it will face the likes of Utah, UCLA, host Oregon State, and Stanford, the No. 7-10 teams in the nation. The Arizona Wildcats are currently ranked No. 18, while Oklahoma, Florida and Michigan hold the top three spots in America.