Meet Notes: Utah State Gymnastics Set to Open 2013 Season at BYU, Saturday
Jan. 10, 2013
Utah State at BYU
2013 SEASON OPENER ON TAP - Utah State gymnastics (0-0, 0-0 WAC) will open the 2013 season at in-state foe BYU (1-1) on Saturday, Jan. 12... Action starts at 1 p.m. (MT) at BYU's Smith Fieldhouse (5,000).
STARTING ON THE ROAD - Friday marks the seventh time in the last eight years that USU has opened the season on the road. A home opener in 2011 broke the streak before it started again last year as the Aggies began the season at Utah.
2012 at Utah 2010 at Central Michigan 2009 at Kentucky 2008 at Boise State 2007 at Sacramento State w/Wisconsin-LaCrosse 2006 at Cal State Fullerton w/San Jose State
FAMILIAR FACES - Utah State and BYU have a long-standing tradition of competition as they meet at least twice each season. Last season in a home-and-home series, the Cougars came out on top both times. The meet in Provo, with Southern Utah, was a tight one as BYU finished first with a 194.100. The Thunderbirds were in second with 193.925 while the Aggies rounded it out with a 193.625. Along with the familiarity each team has with the other, Ashley Follett, who spent one season at Utah State is now competing at BYU.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - BYU is 1-1 on the season so far, having just returned from the Cancun Classic in Cancun, Mexico. There, they took on No. 9 Oregon State and No. 10 Michigan, finishing second. The Cougars put up a total score of 194.475, behind Michigan's 196.575 and ahead of OSU's 193.600.
The Cougars return plenty of talent and experience for the 2013 season. Junior Raquel Willman competed at the NCAA Regionals individually last year and scored a 38.200 in the all-around competition. Junior Megan Bain and senior Haylee Rollins both had their seasons cut short by injury last year, but are back in their full capacity. The team fell just short of qualifying for the North Central Regional meet, sending three individuals instead. Six freshmen have found their place on the BYU roster this season.
BY THE NUMBERS - Utah State has been picked sixth in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches poll. The Aggies ended the 2012 season ranked 47th in the Troester/GymInfo Women's Gymnastics National Rankings while BYU finished at No. 37. In the North Central Regional Rankings, the Aggies finished eighth behind the Cougars who finished sixth. USU's average score last season was 193.469 with the team high of 194.875 coming against San Jose State. BYU's season average was 193.910, setting their season-high at 195.525 against the Aggies.
TUNING IN - Saturday's meet will be televised live on BYUtv (Comcast Ch. 21, DirectTV Ch. 68, Dish Network Ch. 9403). Fans can follow along through the "Live Stats" link on UtahStateAggies.com or by following @USUGymnastics on Twitter.
ABOUT UTAH STATE - It has been a complicated off-season for the Utah State gymnastics team. Between two new coaches and a slew of unexpected injuries and surgeries, nothing has gone quite the way they expected it to since the end of the 2012 season.
However, just because there have been a few surprises, doesn't mean the team hasn't been working hard and making the most of the situations they have found themselves in.
The Aggies return nine letterwinners from last year, including two NCAA North Central Regional participants as well as three all-WAC honorees. With just one senior and two juniors competing, the squad is going to rely heavily on the underclassmen, including the seven freshmen.
Sophomore Sarah Landes and junior Paige Jones are two of the leading Aggies returning for the 2013 season. Both claimed five individual event titles last season, as well as two all-around titles. Amelia Montoya is the lone senior competing this year. She has had a roller coaster of a career, but is strong and healthy, expected to be a leader for the team.
This freshman class is one of the best recruiting classes in school history, with each gymnast coming from a rich background of high levels of competition.
Along with new talent comes some continuity from last season. Sophomore Sarah Landes and junior Paige Jones both competed in the NCAA North Central Regional meet in April and have secured their place among Utah State's strong tradition of well-decorated, successful gymnasts.
The Aggies also welcome two new faces to the coaching staff. Jamie Donkin and David Tighe are in their first seasons as assistants to Jeff Richards. Donkin graduated from and worked at Sacramento State while Tighe comes fresh from his own collegiate club competition at Liberty University.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER - USU returns six different gymnasts who claimed event titles in 2012. Junior Paige Jones and sophomore Sarah Landes each had five individual event wins, as well as two all-around titles. Senior Amelia Montoya and sophomores Kaitlyn Betts and Susie Miller each had one event win.
SCHEDULE BY THE NUMBERS - The majority of USU's competition this season has all garnered attention from the national polls. Going into the season, WAC rivals Boise State and Denver are both in the Top 25, at numbers 15 and 20 respectively. BYU, Utah State and every other WAC team are all listed among others receiving votes.
BEEHIVE STATERS - This season, Utah State has one sole representative from the state of Utah in junior Christina Nye (North Logan, Utah/Logan HS/Tytans Gymnastics). BYU's roster sports six athletes who claim Utah as home.
TWITTER / FACEBOOK - Fans can get live updates from the meets as well as other team information through the USU Twitter and Facebook pages - Twitter: www.twitter.com/USUGymnastics and Facebook: Utah State Gymnastics.
UP NEXT - Following the trip down south, the Aggies will head north to Boise, Idaho to meet the Broncos of Boise State on Jan. 18. This will be the first of four meetings between the teams this season as they will also face each other in Denver on Feb. 23, in Logan on March 15, then ending the season at the WAC Championships. Boise State is back in the WAC after spending a year as an independent team.
The Aggies will then have their first home meet, playing host to WAC rival Southern Utah University on Jan. 25. Action will get underway at 7 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
TICKET INFO - USU Gymnastics Tickets are available through the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the "buy/renew tickets" under the "tickets" drop down menu.
TURNING MORE THAN JUST CARTWHEELS - Utah State had four returning gymnasts earn academic all-WAC honors last season. Senior Amanda Watamaniuk and juniors Samantha Wagner, Christina Nye and Paige Jones all earned GPAs of 3.0 or better. Eight Aggies were also honored as USU Alma E. Whitesides Scholar-Athletes.