Utah State finished its fourth season under head coach Nadalie Walsh with a 9-16 record, including 2-4 mark in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference. The Aggies concluded their 2017 campaign by competing in the NCAA Regional Championships in Seattle, Wash., where they placed sixth with a team score of 194.850.
For the fourth consecutive season, Utah State advanced to the NCAA Regional Championships, a feat that hadn't been accomplished since the program appeared in 17 straight regionals from 1986-2002. The Aggies were seeded fourth at the 2017 Seattle Regional, but placed sixth with a team score of 194.850. In 2015 and 2016, Utah State placed fifth at both the Berkeley Regional (195.150) and Salt Lake City Regional (195.025). In Nadalie Walsh's first year at the helm, the Aggies finished sixth at the Fayetteville Regional (191.875).
MAKING NOISE AT THE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Utah State, which was picked to finish tied for last place in a preseason coaches' poll, captured second place at the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships on March 18 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah. While Boise State won the meet with a 197.050, the Aggies edged out Southern Utah, 196.100-196.075. BYU finished fourth with a 194.675.
USU's 196.100 was its third-highest team score of the season. Furthermore, it was the best score the Aggies had ever produced in a conference championship meet, the fifth-best home score in school history and the ninth-best overall.
The second-place finish was Utah State's best placing at a conference championship meet since 2005, when the Aggies captured the WAC crown.
Sophomore Madison Ward earned first-team all-Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference honors on both vault and floor. She tied for first on floor at the conference championships with a career-high-tying 9.900, a score she reached six times on the season, and tied for third on vault with a 9.800. Freshmen MaKayla Bullitt and Elle Golison also garnered first-team all-MRGC accolades on vault as that duo tied for third with matching 9.800s. For Bullitt, it was a personal-best score. Senior Keri Peel grabbed firstteam all-MRGC honors on bars with a career-high-tying 9.875 to tie for third and fellow senior Hayley Sanzotti notched a career-high-tying 9.900 on beam to tie for first on the event and garner first-team all-conference recognition. Rounding out the all-conference honors was senior Bailey McIntire, who was tabbed second-team beam after tying for sixth on the event with a season-high 9.850.
ON-WARD AND UPWARD
There was no sophomore slump for Madison Ward in 2017. The native of Rexburg, Idaho, was tabbed the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Floor Specialist of the Year after ranking first in the league with a Regional Qualifying Score of 9.900, which also tied for fourth in the North Central Region and tied for 29th in the nation. Ward also garnered first-team all-MRGC honors after tying for first on floor (9.900) and tying for third on vault (9.800) at the league championships, which were held March 18 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Ward finished the season with a floor average of 9.871, which ranks second all-time in school history and her eight floor titles set the sophomore class record on the event. Furthermore, she captured a team-best 11 total titles as a sophomore, which is tied for fifth all-time in class history.
Ward won the floor title in the Aggies' first five meets of the season and was tabbed the MRGC Floor Specialist of the Week six times (1/6, 1/15, 1/22, 1/29, 2/5, 2/26), becoming the first gymnast in school history to accomplish that feat. She recorded the first of six career-high 9.900s on floor set during the season at BYU (1/20) and tallied 10 of the team's top floor scores with those six 9.900s and four more 9.875s.
Ward conluded her spectacular sophomore season by placing in the top three on vault, bars and floor a total of 19 times to rank first on the team.
WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER
Utah State had eight different gymnasts earn event wins this season, collecting 21 titles overall, to go along with one all-around crown. Sophomore Madison Ward led the Aggies with 11 event wins – nine more than the next closest gymnasts. Seniors Keri Peel and Hayley Sanzotti, along with junior Melanie Oster, all tied for second with two event titles apiece. Senior Katie Brown, junior Miranda Hone, sophomore Emily Briones and freshman Brittany Jeppesen all notched one event title apiece, while senior Bailey McIntire recorded the team’s lone all-around crown.
As a team, Utah State averaged 195.119 with a high score of 196.300 against No. 7 Boise State on Feb. 17 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. In the Aggies’ five home meets, they averaged 195.650. Away from home, though, USU averaged just 194.788. That difference of -0.863 was one of the lowest in the nations as only 12 other teams had a worse differential.
SEASON HIGH AND NO. 5
Utah State posted its highest score of the season, a 196.300 against No. 7 Boise State on Feb. 17 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The Aggies’ final tally proved to be the fifth-highest team score in program history and the third-highest home score. USU began the night on vault with a 49.075, followed by a 48.950 on bars. The Aggies moved to beam for the third rotation and finished with a 49.150, which is tied for the seventh-best score in school history on the event. Finishing on floor, the Aggies had to count a 9.675, but still recorded a 49.125 to tie Boise State on the event. Ward finished first with her 9.900, Golison took second with a personal-best 9.875 and Sanzotti tied for third with a 9.850.
Utah State tallied a season-high road score of 196.200 to place third at the 27th-annual Masters Classic in front of 2,232 fans on Feb. 25 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb. No. 15 Nebraska won the quad meet with a 197.175, while No. 19 California came in second with a 196.400, narrowly finishing ahead of the Aggies. Southeast Missouri took fourth with a 190.325. USU’s 196.200 is the seventh-best score in program history and the third-highest road score. The Aggies went 24-for-24 on their routines, recording a 48.875 on vault, 49.125 on bars, 49.125 on beam and 49.075 on floor.
Senior Bailey McIntire led the Aggies with 455.650 points, contributing 13.98 percent of Utah State’s all-event scores. Junior Miranda Hone was the team’s top scorer on vault (136.875; 16.73 percent), while sophomore Madison Ward led USU on both bars (136.700; 16.76 percent) and floor (138.200; 16.90 percent). On beam, freshman Elle Golison was the Aggies’ leading point getter with 136.775 (16.90 percent). In fact, Golison ranked in the top three in each event she competed in as she also ranked second on vault (136.650; 16.71 percent) and second on floor (137.125; 16.77 percent).
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