DAVIS, Calif. -
Utah State's gymnastics team picked up its first two victories away from home this season, recording a 195.000 to defeat host UC Davis (194.525) and Sacramento State (194.400) on Friday night at The Pavilion.
The visiting Aggies (4-3, 0-1 MRGC) were 0-2 away from home prior to Friday night and it took one of the best performances in school history on beam to help them rally past UC Davis in the fourth rotation.
"Once again, we came away with a solid road score," said first-year USU head coach Amy Smith. "This team definitely fought for that tonight and showed what real tenacity they have. I could not be more proud of them right now."
Utah State concluded the meet on beam and claimed a season-high event total with a 49.225, which ranks fifth all-time in school history. Heading into the last rotation, USU trailed UC Davis by two-tenths.
What made the team's performance on beam even more spectacular was the fact it came after a long delay following an injury to sophomore Jazmyn Estrella on bars.
"I'm really proud of the beam team for stepping up after a lull in the meet and having the delay on bars," Smith said. "They stepped up and knocked it out of the park to finish the meet out strong."
Before the Aggies could get to beam, they had some unfinished business on bars. Freshman Mikaela Meyer followed Estrella and made her debut on the event. In an extremely classy move, both UC Davis and Sacramento State came together to show support for Meyer. After Meyer completed her routine, she received congratulatory high-fives from all three schools' gymnasts.
"Seeing all three teams cheering for Mik brought tears to my eyes," said USU junior gymnast Emily Briones. "We've all been working our butts off and it's tough to see anybody go down, so that really meant a lot. The sportsmanship from both teams was really awesome."
"Hats off to UC Davis and Sacramento State," Smith said. "They both showed a great level of sportsmanship and that's what it is all about. It was really cool to see them come over and have every single one of them high-five Mikaela after that routine."
Briones capped the night for Utah State by recording a career-high 9.925 on beam, a score that ranks tied for fourth all-time in school history. She is the first Aggie to earn that score on the event since Liesel Kohler in 2005.
"It was pretty exciting," Briones said. "I work really hard and my team really supports me, so it was really rewarding to see that."
Freshmen Autumn DeHarde and Taylor Dittmar tied for fourth on beam with 9.850s. For Dittmar, it was a personal best.
"Our beam team is so strong and when we all hit, we hit, like you saw tonight," Briones said. "It was just an awesome ending and we did it for Jaz."
Utah State opened the meet on floor, where DeHarde, along with fellow freshmen Faith Leary and Leighton Varnadore, all earned a 9.800 to tie for third. The visiting Aggies finished with a 48.800 on the event.
Moving to vault in the second rotation, junior Madison Ward captured the event title with a 9.825, helping Utah State tally a 48.675 as a team. Leary notched a 9.750 to tie for fifth.
"Seeing Jazmyn go down was super crazy because none of us were expecting it," Ward said. "Our beam team came back after the delay, and Mikaela did really well on bars finishing us up. I was super proud of our beam team for not letting it affect them. I feel like I've gotten better at relaxing myself before I go on vault, so I just did what I've been training this week."
Varnadore was the lone Aggie to place in the top five on bars as she had a career-high-tying 9.800 to tie for fourth. As a team, Utah State recorded a 48.300 and fell into second place heading to beam.
"What the beam team did tonight has been there all along," Smith said. "It's really exciting to see them put it together like that. For them to put it together in such a clutch time and be able to get that level of performance is amazing, but at the same time, I'm not completely amazed because that's what I see practice every day in practice."
Utah State will fly back home on Saturday, then hop on a bus bound for Cedar City on Sunday afternoon. The Aggies will square off against MRGC-rival Southern Utah on Monday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m., at the 5,300-seat America First Event Center.
Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics, on Facebook at Utah State Gymnastics, and on Instagram at USUGymnastics. Fans can also follow the USU athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at UtahStateAthletics.
Utah State at UC Davis Tri Meet - Davis, Calif. - The Pavilion - Feb. 9, 2018
Team Results: 1. Utah State - 195.000 (vault: 48.675; bars: 48.300; beam: 49.225; floor: 48.800); 2. UC Davis - 194.525 (vault: 48.675; bars: 48.500; beam: 48.800; floor: 48.550); 3. Sacramento State - 194.400 (vault: 48.650; bars: 48.750; beam: 48.500; floor: 48.450).
Vault: 1. Madison Ward - USU, 9.825; 2. Kelley Hebert - UCD, 9.800; T3. Courtney Soliwoda - SAC, 9.775; T3. Alexis Brown - UCD, 9.775; T5. Faith Leary - USU, 9.750; T5. Jordyn Brent - SAC, 9.750; T7. Autumn DeHarde - USU, 9.725; T7. MaKayla Bullitt - USU, 9.725; T7. Alyssa Ito - UCD, 9.725; T7. Caitlin Soliwoda - SAC, 9.725; T7. Alexis Belkoff - SAC, 9.725; 12. Gabby Landess - UCD, 9.700; T13. Cammi Johnson - UCD, 9.675; T13. Annie Juarez - SAC, 9.675; 15. Jazmyn Estrella - USU, 9.650; 16. Katelyn Garay - SAC, 9.575; 17. Mikaela Meyer - USU, 9.200; 18. Kara Jones - UCD, 8.950.
Bars: 1. Jordyn Brent - SAC, 9.850; T2. Caitlin Soliwoda - SAC, 9.825; T2. Alexis Brown - UCD, 9.825; T4. Leighton Varnadore - USU, 9.800; T4. Annie Juarez - SAC, 9.800; 6. Brittany Jeppesen - USU, 9.750; T7. Madison Ward - USU, 9.725; T7. Courtney Soliwoda - SAC, 9.725; T7. Aya Suzuki - UCD, 9.725; 10. Gabby Landess - UCD, 9.700; 11. MaKayla Bullitt - USU, 9.675; 12. Kelley Hebert - UCD, 9.650; 13. Alyssa Ito - UCD, 9.600; 14. Courteney Ng - SAC, 9.550; 15. Jamie Panchak - UCD, 9.525; 16. Mikaela Meyer - USU, 9.350; 17. Cydney Elise-Kone - SAC, 8.925; 18. Jazmyn Estrella - USU, 8.050.
Beam: 1. Emily Briones - USU, 9.925; T2. Courtney Soliwoda - SAC, 9.875; T2. Kelley Hebert - UCD, 9.875; T4. Autumn DeHarde - USU, 9.850; T4. Taylor Dittmar - USU, 9.850; T4. Caitlin Soliwoda - SAC, 9.850; T4. Alexis Brown - SAC, 9.850; T4. Aya Suzuki - SAC, 9.850; T9. Elle Golison - USU, 9.800; T9. Leighton Varnadore - USU, 9.800; T9. Annie Juarez - SAC, 9.800; T12. Annie Beck - USU, 9.725; T12. Yasmine Yektaparast - UCD, 9.725; 14. Lauren Schmeiss - SAC, 9.700; 15. Amanda Presswood - UCD, 9.500; 16. Kendra Braida - SAC, 9.325; 17. Jamie Panchak - UCD, 9.200; 18. Carly Pratt - SAC, 8.250.
Floor: 1. Annie Juarez - SAC, 9.875; 2. Alexis Brown - UCD, 9.825; T3. Leighton Varnadore - USU, 9.800; T3. Faith Leary - USU, 9.800; T3. Autumn DeHarde - USU, 9.800; 6. Gabby Landess - UCD, 9.775; 7. Emily Briones - USU, 9.750; 8. Caitlin Soliwoda - SAC, 9.725; T9. Jennifer Brenner - SAC, 9.675; T9. Amanda Presswood - UCD, 9.675; T11. Madison Ward - USU, 9.650; T11. Kelley Hebert - UCD, 9.650; 13. Jamie Panchak - UCD, 9.625; 14. Jordyn Brent - SAC, 9.600; 15. Carly Pratt - SAC, 9.575; T16. Alexis Belkoff - SAC, 9.350; T.16 Roxanna Agah - UCD, 9.350; 18. Elle Golison - USU, 9.150.
All-Around: 1. Alexis Brown - UCD, 39.275; 2. Annie Juarez - SAC, 39.150; 3. Caitlin Soliwoda - SAC, 39.125; 4. Kelley Hebert - UCD, 38.975.
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