Feb. 14, 2013
By Preslie Hirsch, SDA Digital Communications Intern
The Sun Devil gymnastics team set a season-best score on Jan. 25 against UCLA, achieving a 195.600. This years’ squad is overwhelmingly talented and young, led by 11 underclassmen. One freshman in particular, Missouri native Allie Salas, has flipped through a few extra obstacles to have the opportunity to compete for the maroon and gold.
Salas has been practicing gymnastics for about 16 years, but suffered an arm injury mid-recruiting season during high school, leaving her out of scholarship opportunities. She had a chance to walk-on to many college teams, but her school of choice, Arizona State, offered her to come out to Tempe and try-out for a spot on the team. Even with no guarantee, Salas decided to take the risk.
“Senior year of high school I was looking at a bunch of schools and Arizona State really stuck out to me the most,” Salas said. “I like the campus here. I like the warm-weather too. I love that it’s one of the top academic schools in the nation.”
Salas endured 14 days of rigorous try-outs, full of pressure and nervousness.
“Every day she got better and worked, worked, worked. And by the end of the tryout we could already see her in lineups,” assistant coach Kari Ward said. “We’d sit and watch her while she did gymnastics. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s all new equipment with new coaches, and you’re trying really hard to make a team. She just impressed me and [assistant coach] Tom [Ward] with her work ethic, attitude and her skill level.”
“Ecstatic” was the only word Salas could find to explain her emotion after earning a spot on the team. And, as if that wasn’t enough proof of her hard work and talent, the third meet into the season she started out as the lead gymnast in the floor line-up and set the bar extremely high.
“I was surprised I got such a big score, I wasn’t expecting that. Being first up in the floor lineup, usually they get a 9.7 or 9.8 but 9.85 popped up and I was really excited. That’s the highest score I’ve ever gotten on any event,” Salas said.
Over 1,000 miles from home, Salas is fitting right in to her new home in the valley of the sun. She’s got a family of 15 teammates, and her parents came to the first meet, and plan to attend more in the future. Whom, are the same people she credits some of her success.
“My parents and even my coaches back home, they always told me how hard of a worker I am. Growing up in my family, we were always taught ‘try your best, no matter what you do,’” Salas said. “My grandpa always said ‘If you’re going to be a ditch digger, be the best ditch digger there is.’”
She may only be standing at 5’1, but Salas has big goals for the rest of the season.
“For the team we all hope to make it to Nationals, that’s the highest goal we can reach,” Salas said. “Individually, just to keep working hard and hopefully keep making lineups.”
Salas, her family, coaches and fans are thrilled with her brave choice to come out from Kansas City, Mo. to try out for the Sun Devils.
“We couldn’t be happier that we made the right decision to add her to the team,” Ward said. “She’s been a force to reckon with ever since.”