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Arizona State gymnasts to face Northern Illinois in final home meet Friday

The Arizona State gymnastics team is No. 19 on the balance beam in the NCAA.
The Arizona State gymnastics team is No. 19 on the balance beam in the NCAA.
Scott Mammoser

The Arizona State gymnastics team will play at Wells Fargo Arena for the final time in 2014 when it closes its home schedule at 7 p.m. Friday versus Northern Illinois.

The No. 22-ranked Sun Devils are coming off of a 197.450 to 194.150 loss at No. 2 Oklahoma March 7, of which they scored a high of 48.9 points on the balance beam. Natasha Sundby led ASU on the floor with a 9.925, Sammie Seaman recorded a 9.9 vault, Carissa Kraus posted a 9.875 on the uneven bars, and Brianna Gades had the highest beam routine of 9.85.

Seaman, of Branson, Mo., is the lone senior who will be honored in Tempe Friday and has averaged a 9.85 on floor and 9.8 on vault this year after missing the majority of her junior year with an injury. As a sophomore, she put together a 39.175 all-around total.

Following this meet, ASU will head to the Pac-12 Conference Championships March 22 in Berkeley, Calif. It is currently ranked seventh of eight teams in the league.

Friday’s meet is also significant because it is expected to be the last occasion where ASU coach John Spini leads his team at home. After 34 years, 21 NCAA appearances and 27 All-Americans, Spini had announced he would retire earlier this season.

The NIU Huskies recorded the second-highest score in program history (195.100) last week at Eastern Michigan’s Eagle Invitational, with season highs on the vault, beam and floor. Jaelyn Olsen’s high of 9.9 on the vault was the Huskies’ best since 2004.

From the national view, LSU is the No. 1-ranked team, followed by the Sooners, Florida, Alabama, and Utah. The Gators’ Bridget Sloan is in position to repeat her all-around national title from a year ago, as well, leading Katherine Grable of Arkansas and Rheagan Courville of LSU.

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