Meet Notes: Utah State Prepares for NCAA Regional Championships at Arkansas
April 3, 2014
NCAA Regional Championships Barnhill Arena (8,500) Fayetteville, Arkansas Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 3 p.m. (MT)
BACK ON THE NATIONAL STAGE - With its first team bid since 2007, Utah State gymnastics will compete as the fifth seed at the NCAA Regional Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. on Saturday, April 5. Action from Arkansas' Barnhill Arena will get underway at 3 p.m. (MT).
TUNING IN - Arkansas will provide live scoring as well as a video feed for Saturday's meet. Links for both will be posted on UtahStateAggies.com and the team social media sites just before the start of the competition.
THE AGGIES AT REGIONALS - This will be the 27th time Utah State has participated in the NCAA Regional Championships. The last time Utah State participated at NCAA Regionals as a team was in 2007 at the Denver University site. The Aggies finished sixth in that meet with a 192.525. The Aggies highest Regionals finish came in 1982, where the team took second-place. That squad went on to compete at their fourth-straight National Championships where they finished ninth. Utah State has finished third at Regionals five separate times.
THE ORDER OF EVENTS - Utah State will open Saturday's meet on bars and rotate through the four events and two byes that will be before bars and before floor.
FLIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS - 2014 has been a standout year for the Aggie gymnastics program. Vault has been an especially strongpoint for the team, as five of the top 10 vault scores in program history have been scored this year. The Aggies notched the second-best vault score ever recorded by the Aggies with a 49.275 at the UC Davis quad. Additionally, the team has notched two of the top 10 bars scores in program history.
With one meet still remaining, the Aggies have set season average scores that are among the best the school has seen. USU is averaging a 48.917 on vault, the best in program history. The 48.727 bars and 48.769 floor averages rank fifth on the list, while the 48.237 beam averages is the sixth-best. Overall, Utah State has an RQS of 195.570 to rank 30th nationally. The Aggies have an RQS of 49.060 (25th) on vault, 48.945 (31st) on bars, 48.715 (37th) on beam and 49.030 (32nd) on floor.
THE ELUSIVE 196 - For the first time ever, USU gymnastics has hit the 196-point in three consecutive meets. The Aggies notched a 196.000 twice in one weekend against Southern Utah and at the UCLA quad-meet. The next weekend, USU set a new season-best with a 196.075 at the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships. Prior to this season, Utah State had hit the 196 mark just 10 times. The 2002 Aggie squad notched a 196 four times in their season, the most a USU team has done it.
COACH'S FIRST YEAR - Nadalie Walsh is just the third head coach in the history of Utah State gymnastics. In her first season at the helm of the program, she has a 10-12 record. 1978 was the inaugural year for Aggie gymnastics, when Ray Corn led the team to a 36-6 record and a third-place finish at Regionals.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION - The Fayetteville Regional will be a tough fight for the Aggies, facing some of the very best gymnasts in the country. UTAH has a long history of talent and domination in collegiate gymnastics. Currently ranked fifth nationally, the Red Rocks have an RQS of 197.575, with a season-high of 198.025. Utah is coming off a win at the Pac-12 Championships, where they also claimed four of the five available event titles. Tory Wilson won the all-around with a 39.450, while Georgia Dabritz tied for first on vault and floor. Dabritz landed a perfect 10 on bars to have the title to herself. She has a bars RQS of 9.950 to hold the top spot nationally. The Red Rocks are the national leader on floor with an RQS of 49.565.
UCLA is currently ranked eighth nationally, with an RQS of 197.005 and a season-best score of 197.500. The Bruins finished fourth at the Pac-12 Championships, notching a 196.525. Samantha Peszeck was the beam winner with a 9.925, the only non-Utah gymnast to win a title. UCLA's biggest strengths lie on bars and beam, where they are tied for sixth-place nationally on each with an RQS of 49.380 and 49.240, respectively. Sydney Sawa represents UCLA in the all-around with an RQS of 39.100. The Aggies and Bruins met earlier this season in a tri-meet at UCLA. The Bruins edged Utah State 197.050-196.000.
The ARKANSAS Razorbacks are No. 17 in this week's rankings with an RQS of 196.355 and a season-high score of 197.100. Last weekend, Arkansas finished seventh at the SEC Championships where they notched a 194.900. Katherine Gamble leads the Razorbacks in the all-around, while also holding the No. 3 spot nationally with an RQS of 39.610. Arkansas' top event is beam where they have an RQS of 49.140 to be ranked 12th.
ARIZONA STATE has a team RQS of 195.855 to be ranked 24th, while notching a season-best of 196.200. The Sun Devils finished seventh at the Pac-12 Championships where they scored a 195.500. Natasha Sundby leads the Sun Devils on floor with an RQS of 9.900 to tie for 23rd nationally. Floor is the strongpoint for ASU where they are ranked 17th nationally with an RQS of 49.190.
It will be a battle of the Aggies with UC DAVIS in the mix. Ranked 34th, UC Davis has a team RQS of 195.260 with a season-best score of 196.200. Most recently, the California Aggies finished second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships where they notched a 194.875. Kala DeFrancesco scored a 9.825 on bars to win the only title that did not go to a Sacramento State gymnast. The Aggies' top ranking comes on beam where they are 27th with an RQS of 48.920.
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. Freshman Bailey McIntire is tied for 47th on floor with an RQS of 9.875. Senior Paige Jones is 82nd on vault and tied for 84th on bars with an RQS of 9.855 and 9.845, respectively. Sophomore Miranda Kerr has edged into the Top 100 on vault, tying for 95th with an RQS of 9.840. Junior Sarah Landes is in 45th in the all-around, notching an RQS of 39.135.
THE LAST TIME OUT - With the best team performance of the 2014 season, Utah State gymnastics notched a 196.075 to finish fifth at the inaugural Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships at BYU on Saturday, March 22.
The 196.075 is the fifth-best team score in the history of the USU gymnastics program. The score tops the previous season-best of 196.000, while it is the highest score since 2003.
It was a tight meet all the way around as all five schools finished within .850 of each other. No. 20 Denver finished first with a 196.925, No. 17 Boise State came in second with a 196.900, No. 29 Southern Utah was third with a 196.125 and No. 25 BYU finished fourth with a 196.100.
Aggie senior Paige Jones earned all-conference accolades for all three of her performances. She tied for fourth-place on vault with a 9.900 to earn second-team honors. She was named to the first-team on bars and floor, tying for third on both events with a 9.875 and 9.900, respectively. Sophomore Michelle Yasukochi received a second-team nod on beam, tying for fifth-place with a 9.825. Junior Sarah Landes was recognized for her floor and all-around performances, being named to the second-team on both with scores of 9.875 and 39.225, respectively. Freshman Bailey McIntire also received second-team accolades on floor with her 9.875.
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.