LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State's gymnastics team is set to lift the lid on its 2018 campaign and usher in a new era with a trip to the Buckeye State to take on Bowling Green on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Anderson Arena in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The dual meet featuring the Aggies and Falcons (1-0) is set to begin at noon (MT). Although live streaming will not be available, fans can follow along through a live stats link at http://static.bgsufalcons.com/GYMLIVESTATSUSU.htm. Fans can also follow the Aggies on Twitter by following @USUGymnastics.
"We are so excited to get the season under way," said first-year head coach Amy Smith. "We had our last intrasquad meet on Sunday and the team is pumped and ready to go. They are well prepared, everyone knows what their job is and what the expectation is. We are ready to get out to Ohio and open the 2018 season with Bowling Green."
Smith, who was a three-time All-American gymnast at UCLA, is making her head-coaching debut - overall and at Utah State - on Saturday. She replaced Nadalie Walsh last summer and is the fourth head coach in the program's 41-year history.
Smith inherited a program coming off its fourth consecutive NCAA Regional Championships appearance, a feat that had not been accomplished since the program appeared in 17 straight regionals from 1986-2002.
The Aggies, who are ranked No. 32 in the 2018 NACGC/W preseason poll, return seven letterwinners - nine gymnasts overall - from the 2017 campaign and welcome nine newcomers, including eight freshmen, to this year's team.
Among the nine returnees are junior Madison Ward, the reigning MRGC Floor Specialist of the Year, and Emily Briones, who is back after suffering a season-ending injury in the fourth meet of the 2017 campaign.
Ward (all-around) had a sophomore season to remember in 2017. Along with garnering MRGC Floor Specialist of the Year honors, the native of Rexburg, Idaho, also earned first-team all-league honors after tying for first on floor (9.900) and tying for third on vault (9.800) at the conference championships. Her 2017 floor average of 9.871 ranks second all-time in school history.
Saturday is the first of two meetings between the Falcons and Aggies in 2018. Bowling Green will join Utah State in Toledo, Ohio, on Feb. 23 for the Elevate the Stage meet. The Aggies lead the all-time series with the Falcons 2-0, including a 195.400-193.275 victory at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum last season.
"I expect everyone to do their job," Smith said. "We have had several intrasquad meets over the holiday break to ensure everyone knows their role so that we function like a well-oiled machine on Saturday. If we stay calm, move at our own pace and do what we have been doing in practice, we will walk out of there Saturday evening very happy."
While this is Bowling Green's home opener, the Falcons officially kicked off their season last weekend with a 194.000-193.350 dual-meet victory at Michigan State.
Utah State is 41-27 all-time in season openers, a record that takes several multi-team meets into account. In the Aggies' season- and program-opening meet on Jan. 9, 1978, USU placed first (out of nine schools) with a team score of 131.650 at the Air Force-hosted Rocky Mountain Open.
The Aggies are 133-94 all-time during the month of January, including 55-21 at home, 27-53 on the road and 51-20 at a neutral site. Saturday marks Utah State's sixth-ever meet on Jan. 13 as it is 5-1 all-time on the date.
Utah State's home opener is set for Friday, Jan. 19, against San José State and Sacramento State at 7 p.m. at the Spectrum.
For ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Spectrum by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
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.
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