Meet Notes: Utah State Gymnastics Set to Host BYU in First Home Meet of 2014
Jan. 21, 2014
HOME SWEET HOME - After two weeks on the road, Utah State gymnastics is set to open its home season in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The team will host in-state rival BYU on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.
ON A ROLL - Utah State is 2-0 for the first time since 1999. That year, the Aggies opened the season with a 191.025, defeating Southern Utah (189.700) and Sacramento State (187.125). The team continued on a seven-meet winning streak, before eventually falling to Utah in a tri-meet on Feb. 26, 1999. Led by Christy Denson, the current USU record holder in the all-around, bars and floor exercise, that team went on to finish 17-5 on the season.
IT'S GREEK TO ME - Friday's meet will be the annual Greek Night. Utah State fraternities and sororities are invited to show their house and Aggie pride as part of the USU Athletics Greek Challenge. The organization with the most attendees will have points added to its total from the other Greek Nights this school year. The group with the most points at the end of the year will receive a trophy that will be presented at a 2014 football game.
HISTORY AGAINST THE COUGARS - As in-state rivals, the Aggies and Cougars have a long history of competition. BYU leads the all-time series, 68-39-1. Utah State's only advantage comes in the home series, leading 22-21 from the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
The teams met twice in the 2013 season. The Aggies opened the season in a dual-meet in Provo, with BYU coming out on top 194.075-189.425. The two teams faced off again in March in Logan, where the Cougars won again, 195.025-192.900.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - BYU has had a difficult start to the 2014 season, opening against several ranked opponents. The Cougars started the season with a third-place finish in a quad-meet at Utah, falling to then-No. 6 Utah and No. 23 Boise State while defeating Southern Utah. Last week they traveled to Boise State, finishing third to the No. 11 Broncos and No. 14 Denver.
As a team, the Cougars are averaging 194.613 on the season. The team is led in the all-around by sophomore Makenzie Johnson and senior Raquel Willman. Brad Cattermole has been at the helm of the BYU gymnastics program since 1988. He is assisted by his wife Dawn Cattermole and Shauna Mertz.
TUNING IN - For fans who will not be in attendance in Logan, there will be several options for following along with meet action. A link to live scores will be available on the Utah State website prior to the start of the competition. In addition, there will be a free live video stream available through the Mountain West Network.
THE LAST TIME OUT - Utah State gymnastics continued its strong start to the season in Cedar City Friday night as the Aggies topped the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, 194.150-193.975.
Overall, Utah State scored a 48.800 on vault, 48.775 on bars, 48.075 on beam and 48.350 on floor for its 194.150. Southern Utah notched a 48.875 on vault, 48.025 on bars, 48.325 on beam and 48.750 on floor, for a total of 193.975.
In all-around action Friday night, it was an all-Aggie show, as Southern Utah did not have any all-around competitors. Freshman Bailey McIntire finished first with a 38.800, followed by junior Sarah Landes with her 38.550.
Utah State did not claim any individual event titles, but several athletes finished in the top three. Freshman Katie Brown and sophomore Miranda Kerr tied for second-place on the vault with their scores of 9.825. Sophomore McKinzey Martinez finished second on bars with a 9.850, while freshman Charly Belliston tied for second-place on beam with her 9.800 performance.
NOT-QUITE-FAMILY TIES - Even with both schools having local Utah ties, there are just two connections between the two teams. Ashley Follett, a beam specialist for the Cougars, spent her freshman year at Utah State. Aggie freshman Makayla Betz and BYU sophomore Summer Raymond both spent their club careers at Olympus Gymnastics in Sandy, Utah.
BY THE NUMBERS - Utah State has been picked fifth in the unofficial Mountain Rim Conference preseason Coaches poll, with BYU being picked to finish fourth. After two weeks of competition, Utah State is at No. 38 in the Troester/GymInfo rankings, while the Cougars have just slipped from the Top 25 to No. 27. In the North Central Regional rankings, BYU holds the edge at No. 4 to the Aggies' No. 6. USU's average score last season was 192.930 with the team high of 195.100 coming at the WAC Championships. BYU's season average was 194.860, setting their season-high at 195.875 in a meet at Southern Utah.
INDEPENDENT TEAMS UNITE - When Utah State Athletics moved to the Mountain West Conference, the gymnastics team was left without an affiliation as the sport is not sponsored by the Mountain West.. Upon the departure of Utah State and San José State, the Western Athletic Conference dropped gymnastics.
The now-independent teams in Utah State, Denver, Southern Utah, Boise State and BYU have come together to form an informal conference. The five entities will compete multiple times throughout the season and will have an end-of-year meet featuring all five teams at the end of the season. BYU will host the meet, while the gymnastics media relations contact at Southern Utah will run the administrative side of the group.
The Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championship is not a formally recognized conference by the NCAA. Referring to it as such would be erroneous. Media entities are encouraged to use the term "alliance" when referring to the group as a whole. The teams are taking the necessary steps to have the conference made official for the 2015 season.
AROUND THE ALLIANCE - As a team, Utah State is at the top of the Mountain Rim Gymnastics standings at 2-0 overall and 1-0 among MRGC teams. Boise State is the only other team to be undefeated against other MRGC teams at 4-0, but have one loss on their overall record. Denver is currently in third (2-1, 1-1), BYU in fourth (1-4, 1-3) with Southern Utah in fifth (0-4, 0-3).
In the individual performances, five Aggies are representing Utah State in the Top 10 of the alliance. On vault, freshman Katie Brown is tied for sixth-place with an average of 9.825 while sophomore Miranda Kerr is tied for 10th with a 9.800. Freshman Bailey McIntire is tied for fourth-place on the floor exercise with a 9.813 average. McIntire is also in third-place in the all-around with an average score of 38.775, while junior Sarah Landes is in fifth-place with an average of 38.362.
UP AGAINST THE RANKS - The majority of USU's competition this season has all garnered attention from the national Troester/GymInfo poll. UCLA (8), Stanford (12), Boise State (15), Oregon State (18) and Denver (T18) are each in the Top 25.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER - Freshman Bailey McIntire leads the Aggies in event wins so far this season. She claimed her first all-around title at Southern Utah, notching a 38.800. In her collegiate debut at Iowa, McIntire finished first on floor, landing a 9.850.
USU returns five different gymnasts who claimed event titles in 2013. Junior Sarah Landes had three vault wins, one beam title and three all-around victories. Sophomore McKinzey Martinez had the next most with two wins each on vault and bars. Senior Paige Jones claimed one win on vault and another on floor. As a beam specialist, sophomore Stefanie Daley had two event wins. Additionally, sophomore JoAnna Cuba had one beam title during the season.
LOCAL TALENT - After having just one Utah native on the roster last season, Utah State has increased that number to three. Senior Christina Nye (North Logan) has been joined by freshmen Charly Belliston (Magna) and Makayla Betz (Herriman).
SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES - Fans can follow the USU Gymnastics' Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages - Twitter: @USUGymanstics, Facebook: Utah State Gymnastics and Instagram: @USUGymanstics. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
UP NEXT - The Aggies have a quick turnaround as they are set to compete in a quad-meet at UC Davis on Sunday, Jan. 26. The team will face UC Davis, San José State and No. 12 Stanford at 2 p.m. That meet will begin a four-meet roadswing for the Aggies before returning to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Friday, Feb. 21.
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 - Last season, nine Aggies received academic all-WAC honors, all of whom are returning this year. Seniors Paige Jones and Christina Nye, juniors Sarah Landes and Susie Miller and sophomores JoAnna Cuba, Stefanie Daley, Hayley Sanzotti and Michelle Yasukochi all earned GPAs of 3.0 or better while competing in at least half of the season's meets. Thirteen Aggies were also honored as USU Joe E. and Elma Whitesides Scholar-Athletes, while the team was honored as a Top Three team (of less than 20 members) and as one of the most improved teams.