Meet Notes: Utah State Gymnastics Set for Inaugural Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships
March 20, 2014
END OF YEAR CHALLENGE - Utah State gymnastics is set to wrap-up the 2014 regular season at the inaugural Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships (MRGC) on Saturday, March 22. The meet between USU, Boise State, BYU, Denver and Southern Utah will be hosted by BYU. Action from the Marriott Center will get underway at 1 p.m. (MT).
TUNING IN - Saturday's meet will be televised live on BYUtv (Comcast Ch. 21, Dish Network Ch. 9403, DirecTV Ch. 68/374). In addition to the broadcast, BYU will provide live scoring and an online video feed. These links will be available on the Utah State Athletics website the day of the meet.
REGIONALS BOUND - For the first time since 2007, Utah State gymnastics will be competing in the NCAA Regional Championships as a team. With the two consecutive scores of 196.000, the Aggies clinched a spot in the Top 36. The Aggies will join 35 other teams in meets at six different sites across the country. The competition site and five opponents for the USU program will be announced Monday, March 24. Regardless of the results at Saturday's championship, all five MRGC teams have locked spots to qualify for Regionals.
AGGIES IN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS - Utah State has finished first in its conference championships just five times in program history. The Aggies were Big West Champions in 1992, 1996, 1998 and 2001, while taking the Western Gymnastics Conference title in 2005. In the final Western Athletic Conference championships last season, the Aggies finished fourth, notching a 195.100.
ANALYZING THE ALLIANCE - With a 14-4 record, No. 17 BOISE STATE continues to lead the MRGC. The Broncos currently have a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.200, while notching their season-best of 196.975 against Iowa on Feb. 28. Junior Kelsey Morris leads the team in the all-around with an individual RQS of 39.260. At the helm of the Boise State squad are co-head coaches Tina Bird and Neil Resnick, with Patty Resnick assisting. USU is 0-1 against the Broncos this season, but lead the all-time series, 54-33. BSU comes into the weekend off a second-place finish in a tri-meet against Denver and Iowa State.
No. 20 DENVER holds the second-place position in the MRGC heading into Saturday's championship. The Pioneers are 10-3 overall, with an RQS of 196.020. Senior Moriah Martin is the top all-arounder for DU, with an RQS of 39.335. She is known for her dominating vault and floor performances, while junior Nina McGee is the team leader on beam and floor. The Pioneers are coming off a season-best performance, notching a 196.725 to top Boise State and Iowa State last weekend. Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart is the head coach for DU and is assisted by Linas Gaveika and Carl Leland. Denver leads the all-time series with USU, 24-20, already defeating the Aggies once this season.
UTAH STATE holds strong to its third-place position in the MRGC with a 10-8 overall record and an RQS of 195.250. Under the guidance of first-year head coach Nadalie Walsh and her assistants Andi Dolinsky and Josh Nilson, the Aggies are turning the program around. With as many wins already as the last two seasons combined, USU is ranked 32nd and has the highest average score on the season since 2004. Junior Sarah Landes is the sole all-around competitor for the Aggies with an RQS of 39.135. Senior Paige Jones is the top performer on vault and bars with an RQS of 9.835 and 9.830, respectively, while freshman Bailey McIntire leads floor with a 9.870 RQS.
Always a tough competitor for the Aggies, SOUTHERN UTAH is in fourth-place prior to the championship meet. With a 6-7 overall record, the Thunderbirds are more than their win-loss columns show. SUU has a team RQS of 195.580 to be ranked 29th this week. Southern Utah is coming off a loss to Utah State, notching a 195.550 to the Aggies' 196.000. The Thunderbirds' top performance of the year came in a 195.925-195.775 win at San José State on Feb. 28. With the two losses to USU this season, the all-time series between the two schools is even at 39-39. Freshman Memory Shettles is the top all-around competitor for SUU with an RQS of 38.760. The Thunderbirds are led by Scott Bauman with Kari Louthan and Jeff Hunt as his assistants.
Competing in their first conference championship in 20 years, No. 25 BYU has an overall record of 6-11 with an RQS of 195.675. The top performance for the Cougars came in a loss to Denver, where they scored a 196.425. Most recently, BYU finished second in a quad-meet at Arizona, defeating Texas Woman's and Bridgeport, while falling to UA. The Aggies and Cougars have met twice this season, splitting the pair of meets. BYU has a significant advantage in the all-time series, leading 69-40-1. Brad Cattermole is the head coach for the Cougars, assisted by Dawn Cattermole and Shauna Mertz. Senior Raquel Willman-Hatch leads BYU in the all-around with an RQS of 39.260.
THE TOP 100 CLUB - With the success the team has seen this season, three Aggies are currently representing the Utah State program in the Top 100 nationally, reported by Troester/Gym Info. Freshman Bailey McIntire is tied for 44th on floor with an RQS of 9.870. Senior Paige Jones continues to have a stellar senior season and is currently tied for 97th on vault and tied for 93rd on bars with RQS scores of 9.835 and 9.830, respectively. Junior Sarah Landes is in 45th in the all-around, notching an RQS of 39.135.
THE LAST TIME OUT - Utah State posted a 2-1 record last week with a 196.000-195.550 win against 24th-ranked Southern Utah, followed by a second-place finish at a tri-meet hosted by No. 7 UCLA along with Bowling Green.
Against the Thunderbirds, USU scored a 196.000 for the first time since 2004 which is tied for the seventh-best team score in school history. In the meet, USU notched a 49.125 on vault, a 48.925 on bars to match its season-best score, a season-high 48.875 on beam and a 49.075 on floor, contributing to the 196.000 total. SUU finished with a 48.775 on vault, a 48.950 on bars, a 49.050 on beam and a 48.775 on floor for a total of 195.550. Junior Sarah Landes finished third in the all-around with a 38.700, including a second-place finish on vault with a 9.875. Senior Paige Jones claimed the vault title with a 9.875, placed second on bars with a 9.850 and tied for fourth-place on floor with a 9.800. Freshman Charly Belliston tied for third on both bars and beam with a 9.825 on each event. And Landes, freshman Bailey McIntire and junior Susie Miller all shared the first-place spot on floor as they all notched a 9.850.
In its tri-meet with UCLA and Bowling Green, USU notched a 49.075 on vault, a season-best 49.200 on bars, a 48.850 on beam and a 48.875 on floor. UCLA hit a 49.175 on vault, a 49.500 on bars, a 48.975 on beam and a 49.400 on floor for the 197.050 total. Bowling Green's third-place finish came with a 194.125, comprised of a 48.725 on vault, a 48.725 on bars, a 47.925 on beam and a 48.825 on floor. Landes finished third in the all-around with a 39.250, matching her season-high, including a fourth-place finish on bars with a career-high tying 9.875. Jones tied for third on vault with a 9.850, and sophomore Michelle Yasukochi tied for fourth on beam with a 9.825.
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 (11), Boise State (17), Denver (20) and BYU (25) are each in the Top 25. Southern Utah, San José State and Utah State are all in the Top 36 and have locked a spot at NCAA Regionals.
UP NEXT - With a place secured for the NCAA Regional Championships, the Aggies await the announcement of which site they will compete at. The announcement will be made Monday, March 24 at 1 p.m. The Regional Championship meets will be held on Saturday, April 4 at six sites across the country.
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 - So far this season, USU gymnasts have claimed 24 event wins. Bailey McIntire leads the team with seven wins, while Sarah Landes has six. Paige Jones and Miranda Kerr have three titles each, while McKinzey Martinez collected two before her season-ending injury. Michelle Yasukochi, Susie Miller and Charly Belliston have one win a piece.
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.
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.