Meet Notes: Aggie Gymnastics Prepare for Meet-Filled Weeked
March 11, 2014
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME - Utah State gymnastics will wrap-up the home portion of the season Friday when they host in-state rival No. 24 Southern Utah on Senior Night.
CELEBRATING THE SENIORS - As it is the last home meet of the season, Friday's competition will be the annual Senior Night. The Aggie roster boasts two seniors this season in Paige Jones and Christina Nye. Jones, a Smithville, Mo. native and Nye, a local hailing from North Logan, Utah, have both been at USU for their entire careers and have made significant contributions to the program.
TUNING IN - Friday's meet will be streamed live and at no cost for fans. Additionally, live scores will be available. Links to both will be posted on the Utah State Athletics website on Friday. Fans can also follow the Utah State gymnastics social media outlets for meet updates.
Live stats and a video feed will also be available for Sunday's meet. Links to UCLA's information will be posted on the Utah State website.
LUCKY NUMBER 36 - For a team to qualify for NCAA Regionals, it needs to be in the Top 36 of the Troester/Gym Info rankings. Utah State is at No. 35 for the third week in a row with a Regional Qualifying Score of 194.530. Right now, each of the five teams in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics alliance are in the Top 36. Utah State has not participated in NCAA Regionals as a team since 2007, though individual Aggies have participated each season since.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - With a long history of competition, Southern Utah is a very familiar opponent for the Aggies. SUU just edges USU in the all-time series, leading 39-38. The Thunderbirds are 6-6 on the season, having earned big wins over Boise State and Denver. Scott Bauman, a former USU assistant coach, is in his 23rd season at the helm of the SUU program, with Kari Louthan and Jeff Hunt as his assistants. Freshman Memory Shettles is the only active all-arounder for the T-Birds, averaging a 38.815. Redshirt-senior Alyssa Click is bouncing back from last year's injury, leading the team on bars and beam with an RQS of 9.850 and 9.785, respectively. SUU is ranked 24th in the Troester/Gym Info rankings with a 195.560. They are coming off a week-long break, most recently competing at San José State. In San Jose, the Thunderbirds notched a season-best 195.925 to get the win.
No. 7 UCLA has a season RQS of 196.920 and high score of 197.500. The Bruins will be comingg off a long break, with their last meet being on March 7. The team finished second in a tri-meet against No. 8 Michigan and No. 5 Utah in Ann Arbor. Senior Olivia Courtney leads the Bruins on vault, bars and floor, with an RQS above 9.850 on each event. Additionally, she has just on vault that scored less than a 9.900 all season. Freshman Hallie Mossett is the top all-around competitor for UCLA with an RQS of 39.215. The Aggies and Bruins have met 12 times throughout program history, with UCLA leading the all-time series, 9-3. Valorie Turner is in her 24th season as the head coach of the Bruins, but has been with the program since 1983. She is assisted by Chris Waller and Randy Lane.
Bowling Green State is a new challenger for the Aggies as this will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. However, as a Mid-American Conference school, USU head coach Nadalie Walsh is familiar with the team from her time as the head coach at Ball State. Kerrie Turner is in her sixth season at the helm of the BGSU team, assisted by Taylor Jones and Sunny Marchand. Sophomore Alyssa Nocella leads the team with an all-around RQS of 38.995. The team has a season RQS of 194.690 to be ranked 39th nationally. The Falcons are coming off a season-best performance of 195.925 in a loss at Kent State.
THE TOP 100 CLUB - With the success the team has seen this season, four Aggies are currently representing the Utah State program in the Top 100 nationally, reported by Troester/Gym Info. Sophomore Miranda Kerr is leading the team on vault, earning an RQS of 9.830 to tie for 86th. Senior Paige Jones has cracked into the Top 100 on bars with an RQS of 9.820, tying for 95th. On floor, freshman Bailey McIntire is tied for 37th, with an RQS of 9.870. Junior Sarah Landes is among the top all-arounders nationally, ranked 46th with an RQS of 39.065.
THE LAST TIME OUT - Shattering the previous season-best score with a 195.525, Utah State gymnastics topped San José State in dual-meet action Friday, six years to the day of the last win over the Spartans.
Friday's score set USU's season high for the second-straight week, topping the 195.000 mark for the second time in as many meets. It is also the Aggies' highest score since Feb. 23, 2007, when USU posted a 195.675 against Southern Utah. It is the 23rd highest score in program history, just missing the 195.550 mark that has been reached three times.
Utah State notched a 48.875 on vault, 48.675 on bars, a season-best 48.800 on beam and a 49.175 on floor, contributing to the 195.525 total.
Junior Sarah Landes represented the Aggies among the four all-around competitors, claiming her second-consecutive win with a 39.175. Sophomore Miranda Kerr was the vault winner with a 9.825, while senior Paige Jones, freshman Bailey McIntire and Landes shared the third-place spot with a 9.775. USU swept the podium on bars with Jones claiming the title with a season-best 9.875. Sophomore JoAnna Cuba and freshman Charly Belliston placed second and third, each setting career-highs, with a 9.850 and 9.825, respectively. Sophomore Michelle Yasukochi took the beam title with a 9.825 and McIntire took home her third-straight and sixth overall floor win with a 9.875, while Jones tied for second on floor with a 9.850, matching her career-high.
BY THE NUMBERS - Utah State was picked fifth in the unofficial Mountain Rim Conference preseason Coaches' poll. Utah State is tied at No. 35 in the Troester/GymInfo rankings with an RQS of 194.745. Southern Utah is No. 24 with an RQS of 195.560. UCLA is the highest-ranked team the Aggies will face this season, currently at No. 7 with an RQS of 196.920. Bowling Green is currently No. 39 with a 194.690 RQS.
INDEPENDENT TEAMS UNITE - When Utah State Athletics moved to the Mountain West, 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 gymnastics programs of 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.
UP AGAINST THE RANKS - The majority of USU's competition this season has all garnered attention from the national Troester/GymInfo poll. UCLA (7), Stanford (10), Oregon State (12), Boise State (17), Denver (21), Southern Utah (24) and BYU (T25) are each in the Top 25. Several others are in the Top 36, the number required to qualify for Regionals as a team. San José State is No. 29 while Utah State holds the No. 35 spot, currently ranked high enough to qualify for its first NCAA Regionals since 2007.
UP NEXT - To conclude the 2014 season, Utah State will take part in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships, an unofficial conference championship meet. The Aggies will face Denver, Boise State, BYU and Southern Utah in the March 22 competition. BYU will host the meet at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah. Action will get underway at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on BYUtv.
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).
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER - Freshman Bailey McIntire leads the Aggies in event wins so far this season with seven. She claimed her first all-around title at Southern Utah, notching a 38.800. She has won the floor competition five times on the year, including the last two-straight meets. Junior Sarah Landes has four wins overall in three all-around titles, while getting a bars win at BYU. Sophomore Miranda Kerr has three vault wins this year, while senior Paige Jones (vault and bars) and McKinzey Martinez (bars) are next with two titles each.
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 attwitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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.