Season Ends On a High Note For BYU Gymnasts
PROVO -- The BYU gymnastics team had the Marriott Center rocking Friday night as the Cougars closed out the season with their second-highest score of the year at 192.725 against No. 2 Utah. However, the Utes also came up big with their best score of the season and the second-highest mark recorded by any team in the country this year at 197.800 to take home the Deseret First Duel trophy.
“Tonight was fun,” said BYU head coach Brad Cattermole. “When you’re doing well and having fun in front of the crowd, everyone performs better. We had a good crowd tonight, which really got us going.”
The Cougars started the meet in fine fashion on the vault with their second-highest score of the year on that event at 48.500. Three career highs sparked the BYU effort led by freshman Emiko Ono. The newcomer posted a tremendous vault worth 9.850. Freshman Mickell Merrell also established a new personal best at 9.650 while sophomore Madeleine Johnson began her all-around competition with a career-high 9.600. However, five scores above 9.800 on the uneven bars helped Utah score a 49.375 to come out on top after the first rotation.
After sitting out the last five meets with an ankle injury, junior co-captain Megan Donehue gave the Cougars an emotional boost with her return on the uneven bars, scoring a 9.725 to tie her season high. However the two gymnasts before Donehue both fell, forcing BYU to count one of the slip-ups. A 9.800 from Johnson contributed to a final Cougar tally of 46.850 on the event while Utah scored a 49.550 on the vault to stay in the lead.
Coming off its best performance of the year on the balance beam last week at Utah State, BYU performed well on the event in the third rotation with their second-highest score of the season at 48.500. Beam specialist Kaylee Gallup led the way with a 9.825 while freshman Jennifer Lezeu was right behind with a 9.800. The Utes put on a clinic in the third rotation on the floor, showing why they are ranked No. 1 in the nation on that event with a total score of 49.600 and individual scores ranging from 9.875 to 9.975.
Career highs from junior Danielle Goldman (9.850) and sophomore Whitney Olsen (9.800) were the Cougar highlights on the floor exercise as BYU posted its highest mark of the year on that event at 48.875. The Cougars did not count a score lower than 9.700 on their way to the high mark with a 9.775 from Johnson, a 9.750 from Merrell and a 9.700 from Jessica Villegas.
Johnson paced three Cougars competing in the all-around with a career-high score of 38.775. Utah’s Nina Baskett, who ranks second in the country in the all-around, took the title with a 39.650.
“This has been a tough year, but a great year,” said Cattermole. “We’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries, but our gymnasts have really stepped up when they had to. They don’t get down, and they never give up. I’m really proud of them.”
Season Finale For BYU Gymnasts
PROVO -- The BYU women’s gymnastics team will take the floor for the last time in the 2009 regular season this Friday at 7 p.m. The Cougars will wrap up the year in style hosting No. 2 Utah at the Marriott Center in a meet televised live by BYUTV.
“The Utah meet is always a fun meet,” said BYU head coach Brad Cattermole. “Our team is looking forward to competing on Friday. It's been a challenging year with all the injuries with such a young team, but it's been a good year in that a lot of our gymnasts have gained valuable experience and we've grown together as a team.”
BYU has indeed had more than its share of injury issues as six Cougars suffered season-ending injuries or illness, including the team’s two co-captains. But several other gymnasts have stepped up to the plate, including several freshmen. Newcomer Jennifer Lezeu stood out last week at Utah State with two career highs. Lezeu posted her first personal best on the vault at 9.700. She followed that up with a 9.875 on the balance beam, helping BYU post its top score of the year on that event at 48.800. Lezeu also came just .025 short of tying her career high on the floor (9.725).
A stellar team performance on the balance beam last week helped BYU to a score of 191.975 last Friday at Utah State in another solid outing for the Cougars. However, the Aggies posted an overall tally of 193.825 to top BYU in the Cougars’ final road meet of the year. Three BYU gymnasts tallied career highs led by junior beam specialist Kaylee Gallup. Gallup used the four-inch apparatus to full advantage with a tremendous score of 9.925, the highest mark posted by any Cougar on any event this year.
The Cougars will have their work cut out for them against in-state rival and second-ranked Utah. The Utes have been strong all year, spending every week but one in the top two and enjoying three weeks as the nation’s No. 1 team. The Utes are No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault, No. 3 on bars and No. 4 on beam. Kristina Baskett checks in at No. 2 in the all-around, No. 2 on bars, No. 4 on vault and No. 13 on floor. Nina Kim is No. 12 in the all-around and No. 4 on beam; Annie DiLuzio is tied for No. 9 on vault and No. 20 on floor; Jamie Deetscreek is No. 20 in the all-around.
In addition to live coverage on BYUTV, live stats will also be available for Friday’s meet by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s gymnastics homepage at www.byucougars.com/gymnastics_w.