Jan. 29, 2014
Utah State at Air Force with Seattle Pacific Cadet West Gym Colorado Springs, Colo. Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 - 5 p.m. (MT)
ON THE ROAD AGAIN - Utah State gymnastics is set to continue its month-long roadswing Saturday as they take on a pair of Falcons in the U.S. Air Force Academy and Seattle Pacific. Action from the Cadet West Gym in Colorado Springs will get underway at 5 p.m. (MT) on Feb. 1.
VAULTING TO SUCCESS - The Aggies have had a strong showing in the vault portion of the competition this season. In Sunday's quad-meet at UC Davis, the team scored 49.275, the second-highest in program history. Senior Paige Jones landed a career-best 9.925 in the lineup, tying for the fourth-best score in the USU record books. The team is currently tied for 21st nationally with a vault average of 48.906. Individually, sophomore Miranda Kerr is ranked 67th with her personal average of 9.831.
HISTORY AGAINST THE FALCONS - Utah State has the commanding lead in the all-times series against these two teams. Against USAF, the Aggies are 10-1. Air Force has only been in Logan one time, while USU has only gone to the Air Force Academy three times. The only loss for the Aggies came in a quad-meet at the University of Arizona on March 26, 2012. Utah State has met the Seattle Pacific Falcons seven times in the past, coming out on top each time. The two teams will meet again in two weeks in a quad-meet at Oregon State.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - Air Force is averaging a team score of 191.642 this season. The season-best score came in last week's loss to Denver, where they notched a 192.400. The Falcons are 1-3 on the year, with a win over Lindenwood and losses to No. 14 Minnesota, Texas Woman's and No. 18 Denver. Floor is USAF's strong point, where they are averaging a score of 48.200.
Air Force is led in the all-around by senior Linnea Hance. She is averaging a score of 38.00, with a season-best of 38.475. Junior Jessica Wallender leads the team on vault, averaging a 9.700, while senior Katie Hawthorne is on top on bars and floor, averaging 9.767 and 9.708, respectively.
Seattle Pacific is a Division II program that has an average team score of 191.542, notching its season-high of 193.425 in a dual meet at Washington. The Falcons have an overall record of 3-2, with wins over Alaska Anchorage, Wisconsin-LaCrosse and Wisconsin-Oskosh. Beam is the strength of the Falcons, where they are averaging 48.275.
The team does not have any active all-arounders. Senior Bryn Larson and freshman Tracie Villanueva lead the way on beam, averaging 9.708 and 9.733, respectively. Sophomore Maria Hundley is the top vaulter for the Falcons, averaging a 9.775, while also scoring an average of 9.525 on bars and 9.517 on beam.
THE LAST TIME OUT - The USU ladies in leotards had a busy weekend, competing both against BYU at home and in a quad-meet hosted by UC Davis.
Utah State gymnastics improved to 3-0 Friday after defeating BYU, 193.200-192.900 for the first time since 2009. Utah State finished the night scoring a 48.850 on vault, 48.725 on bars, 46.950 on beam and 48.675 on floor for its winning overall score of 193.200. BYU notched a 48.775 on vault, 48.275 on bars, 48.550 on beam and 47.300 on floor for a total of 192.900.
The team flew to California the next day to take on UC Davis, San José State and No. 12 Stanford. There, the team notched a season-best team score of 194.400, but finished fourth.
Utah State finished the meet scoring a 49.275 on vault, the second-best in program history, a 48.775 on bars, 48.025 on beam and 48.325 on floor for its overall score of 194.400. No. 12 Stanford finished first with a total score of 197.200, posting a 49.275 on vault, 49.375 on bars, 49.525 on beam and a 49.025 on floor. UC Davis finished second with an overall score of 195.875, notching a 49.050 on vault, 48.950 on bars, 48.925 on beam and 48.950 on floor. San José State took the third-place spot with their 195.400 total score, landing a 48.850 on vault, 48.550 on bars, 48.975 on beam and 49.025 on floor. The high-scoring meet produced the season-best scores for all four teams involved, while UC Davis set a new program record with their score.
BY THE NUMBERS - Utah State has been picked fifth in the unofficial Mountain Rim Conference preseason Coaches poll. After three weeks of competition, Utah State is at No. 37 in the Troester/GymInfo rankings. Air Force is currently at No. 51, Seattle Pacific is No. 52. In the North Central Regional rankings, USU is No. 7, ahead of Air Force at No. 9. Seattle Pacific is in the West Region, currently holding the 10th-place spot. Air Force and Seattle Pacific are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings.
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 - With Sunday's loss, the Aggies have dipped to the No. 2 spot of the Mountain Rim Gymnastics group. Boise State has taken the top spot with a perfect 5-0 overall record and 5-1 in the MRGC. Denver is in third-place (3-1, 1-1), BYU in fourth (1-5, 1-4) and Southern Utah in fifth (0-5, 0-4).
In the individual performances, four Aggies are representing Utah State in the Top 10 of the alliance. On vault, sophomore Miranda Kerr is in sixth-place with a season average of 9.831. Senior Paige Jones is in 10th on both vault and bars with an average of 9.794 and 9.744, respectively. With one performance under her belt, sophomore Stefanie Daley is in seventh-place on bars with a 9.750. Freshman Bailey McIntire is in fifth-place on floor with an average of 9.806, as well as in fifth-place in the all-around with a 38.431. Junior Sarah Landes is at No. 7 among all-around competitors, averaging a 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 (9), Stanford (11), Boise State (15), Oregon State (16) and Denver (18) are each in the Top 25.
UP NEXT - The Aggies continue their month-long roadswing next weekend, but will be back in Utah. USU and BYU will have their second of three match-ups on the year as the Aggies head to Provo. The two teams will meet at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 from the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.
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. In the home-opener against BYU, McIntire tied for first on floor with a 9.800.
The Aggies had a season-high number of event wins against BYU, taking three of the five available titles. Along with McIntire's win, sophomores Miranda Kerr and McKinzey Martinez finished first on vault and bars, respectively, each notching a 9.825. Senior Paige Jones landed a career-best vault score of 9.925 at the UC Davis quad-met to tie for first-place.
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. Martinez had the next most with two wins each on vault and bars, while 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.
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.
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