It’s been over a decade since the BYU women’s gymnastics team competed in nationals.
The Cougars will work to get back to nationals in the 2016 season after placing fifth at the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championship and sixth at the regional competitions in 2015.
The team will rely on experience from 12 returning gymnasts, while hoping for strong additions from four incoming freshman and one transfer student.
The Cougars also welcome a new coaching staff that includes new head coach Guard Young. Young has high hopes for the Cougars this season.
“My goal for every season is to win a national championship,” Young said in a press release before the season began. “The only thing we can do is hit routines and stick landings. We need to focus on what we can control and that is how hard we work.”
BYU will attempt to use last year’s placement at regionals as a stepping-stone to reach the NCAA Championships, despite a tough schedule. They will face five teams currently ranked in the top 25, including Arizona, Boise State, Central Michigan, Southern Utah and Utah.
Senior Makenzie Halliday believes in the team’s potential.
“Everyone has been working so hard and I can tell it’s going to be a great year for us,” Halliday said in a press release prior to the season. “Our goal is to make nationals this year, and I truly believe we can do it.”
The team will need the help of junior Eliane Kulczyk who is back after an injury that allowed her to compete in only four meets during the 2015 season.
Jill Van Mierlo also looks to help the Cougars in her sophomore year. She was named the MRGC Freshman of the Year and MRGC Gymnast of the Week on Feb. 9 last season.
Halliday, Mikaela Jones and Emily Vidmar return as seniors hoping to make the most of their last chance as part of the gymnastics team to compete at nationals.
Halliday is coming off a strong 2015 campaign. She was named MRGC Gymnast of the week on March 9, 2015 and finished the season on the All-MRGC First Team on the balance beam and in the all-around. She begins the year leading the team on floor (9.800), beam (9.825) and all-around (38.875). She hopes to carry this momentum throughout the new season.
The Cougars will have to do most of their work on the road this year. They will host only three meets at the Smith Fieldhouse and Young said the fans can be a huge help.
“We need all the fan base and support we can get from everybody, including alumni, local clubs, the community and campus support,” Young said in a press release.”We need to have as many as we can come out and support these girls because they are worthy of your support.”