LOGAN, Utah -
For the first time since 2012, Utah State is competing at home in a conference championship meet. The 23rd-ranked Aggies will welcome No. 11 Boise State, No. 19 Southern Utah and BYU to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday, March 18, for the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships at 6 p.m.
"We're really excited to host the conference meet on Saturday," said senior Katie Brown. "To be able to have our fans come out and support us is amazing. We're planning on packing our part of the stadium. They split it up into sections for each team and we're hoping to have the fullest section since we are hosting it. We're just really excited to show Cache Valley what we can do. We've been performing here all season, but this is going to be a whole new atmosphere, we're going to have four teams here and it's going to be really fun."
Live streaming (subscription required) will be available through FloGymnastics, while live scores will be available online at www.utahstateaggies.com. Additionally, Aggie fans can follow the Utah State gymnastics social media outlets for meet updates.
"We just need to go out there and do our gymnastics to the best of our abilities the way we have multiple times this year," said fourth-year USU head coach Nadalie Walsh. "I'm really happy to be home and be a little bit more relaxed. We were able to train in this arena all week long, so the girls are more prepared than they've ever been. It will just be a matter of transferring the good gymnastics that they know they can do and rolling with the excitement and energy of the crowd. It will be awesome."
To avoid long lines on Championship Saturday, fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance and can do so by calling the Utah State ticket office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or by visiting the ticket office online at www.utahstateaggies.com/tickets. Adult tickets are $10 and youth tickets (between 3 and 14 years old) are $5. All students showing a valid ID from the four MRGC schools will receive free admission.
Utah State (7-10, 2-4 MRGC) comes into the meet fresh off a 195.675-194.600 home loss to Southern Utah just last weekend. In their last two outings, the Aggies have had to count two falls on beam each time out.
"We need to do what we have been doing all season, just get up there and hit," said freshman bars specialist Brittany Jeppesen, who ranks eighth in the MRGC on the event with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 9.845. "We've had a couple of fluke meets on beam. I feel like our training this week is going to really help us hit."
Walsh is confident her Aggies will return to form on the balance beam.
"I think the last two meets were definitely more of a fluke than anything, but it really showed us as coaches and athletes that there were some training techniques we had taken for granted a little bit," Walsh said. "So, we went back and worked really hard on that. I can honestly say that our beam team is going to hit. I am not the least bit concerned or worried. Every one of these athletes has performed so many routines this week and so many quality routines in pressure situations. We just need to move forward and not dwell on the past."
Sophomore Madison Ward ranks first in the MRGC, and is tied for fifth in the North Central Region and tied for 28th nationally with an RQS of 9.895 on floor. She is also tied for 24th regionally on bars with a 9.820 RQS.
Senior Katie Brown and junior Miranda Hone lead the Aggies on vault as that duo ranks 11th and 12th, respectively, in the MRGC with RQS scores of 9.810 and 9.805.
"We have the same goal every year," Brown said. "We want to win every year and we want to do our best routines, but it's a bittersweet moment for me with this being my last time competing in the Spectrum. I just really want to lay it all out there. I want our whole team to do what we practice every time. We don't have to try any harder, we just have to get our routines done."
Senior Keri Peel ranks seventh in the conference on bars with a 9.850 RQS, and is tied for eighth on beam with a 9.810 RQS. Jeppesen is right behind her at No. 8 on bars with an RQS of 9.845.
On beam, the Aggies are led by freshman Elle Golison, who ranks seventh in the MRGC with an RQS of 9.820. She is also tied for eighth on floor with a 9.840 RQS, while senior Bailey McIntire is tied for 12th in the conference on the event with an RQS of 9.815.
The MRGC was officially recognized by the NCAA prior to the start of the 2015 season. Boise State (9-4, 4-0 MRGC) has captured the first two league championships and comes into Saturday's meet with a team RQS of 196.835.
BYU heads into the weekend with an overall record of 5-9, including 1-4 in MRGC action. The Cougars have an RQS of 195.460. For Southern Utah, the Thunderbirds are 7-3 overall, 3-2 in the MRGC and have an RQS of 196.300.
Utah State, which has already secured a berth for the NCAA Regional Championships for the fourth consecutive year, will begin the meet on bars, then move to beam in the second rotation, followed by floor and finish on vault.
The Aggies have won five conference championships in the history of the program. USU captured Big West titles in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2001, as well as a Western Gymnastics Conference crown in 2005. 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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