GYMNASTICS HOSTS #15 SOUTHERN UTAH IN ANNUAL THINK PINK MEET
The Sacramento State gymnastics team continues its homestand on Friday, Feb. 15, when it takes on 15th-ranked Southern Utah in the team’s annual “Think Pink” meet. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. and all proceeds will be donated to Mercy Hospital for breast cancer research.
The Hornets are coming off a convincing six-point win over Seattle Pacific last Friday. Sacramento State struggled through the first three rotations but concluded the meet on floor with a season high and finished with a team score of 191.975. The Hornets claimed the top three spots in all four events (with the exception of a third-place tie on floor). Marina Borisova was first on bars and floor, Alycia Chan won vault and Lizzy Norvell and Melissa Genovese tied for first on beam.
Southern Utah is off to an amazing start to the 2008 season. The Thunderbirds are 5-0 and have not scored less than 194.175 in their three meets. In its last meet against Utah State on Feb. 4, SUU posted a season high 196.000. As a team, the Thunderbirds rank first in the Western Athletic Conference this season on bars, beam and total score and are second on vault and floor. Individually, Ari Lamb and Katie Hicks are tied for the WAC lead on beam with a season average of 9.833.
Southern Utah leads the all-time series, 4-2. Last season, the Thunderbirds handed the Hornets a 194.075-191.600 loss in the second meet of the year. However, Sacramento State returned to Cedar City, Utah, for the WAC Championships and edged SUU (195.275-195.225) for the conference crown.
The Road to Recovery
Through three rotations against Seattle Pacific, it appeared Sacramento State was going to have to battle to break the 190-point plateau. Those fears went away early as the Hornets produced their best floor set of the season. Amber Basgall started things with a season high 9.700 and was followed by Nicole Giao’s 9.675 during her first routine of the year. The bottom half of the lineup was even more impressive as Eryn Stubblefield scored 9.725, Melissa Genovese posted a 9.800 and Marina Borisova concluded with a 9.875.
The team score of 48.775 was easily the best for the Hornets this season, surpassing their previous high of 48.450. In fact, floor has been the trouble event for the team through the early season as Sacramento State has only scored 48-plus on two occasions.
Just Like New
One person who aided the team’s success on floor was senior Nicole Giao. The Alta Loma, Calif., native had been out of the floor lineup for the first four meets of the season due to a degenerative disk in her neck. It did not take Giao long to get back in the mix once she was cleared to return to floor. The coaching staff toyed with the idea of her performing an exhibition against the Falcons but opted to stick her into the lineup despite the fact that she had completed only two full routines in practice all season.
If you’re scoring at home, last week’s vault title marked the third meet this season that the top honor has been given to Alycia Chan. The freshman scored only 9.650 in a very tightly judged event but still managed to win the title by .075. Chan’s overall season average is still being affected by a fall against Southern Utah but she is beginning to compile enough strong scores to crack the rankings when the regional qualifying scores come into play. The Abbotsford, British Columbia, native is also a regular on beam and floor during her first collegiate season.
Apparently Sacramento State was not content with just one first place finisher on beam against Southern Utah. Instead, the honor was shared by Melissa Genovese and Lizzy Norvell after both scored 9.750. The efforts by the pair were enormous considering the fact that the Hornets had three falls during the rotation.
The path to the top of podium could not be more different for the two. Genovese has been a fixture on beam since her arrival four seasons ago. The El Dorado Hills native, who is regarded by Hughes as the “best on beam in program history”, was the WAC Champion last season and tied for sixth at the NCAA West Regional.
Norvell walked on to the team last fall and slowly began to work her way into the lineup. As a freshman, she competed in four meets but averaged just 9.006. The Fresno, Calif., native, returned to the team this season and has averaged 9.580 while starting all five meets. In fact, since falling in her debut against Cal State Fullerton, Norvell is averaging 9.775. Norvell is also the only female two-sport student-athlete at Sacramento State as she competes in the pole vault for the Hornet track and field program.