BYU tumblers come out on top



    The BYU men’s gymnastics team opened its season this weekend by taking first in the Rocky Mountain Open against some of the nation’s top teams. The team not only placed first, but finished with its highest score ever.

    BYU’s competitors included Nebraska and Oklahoma, ranked 6th and 4th respectively. This is the first time the Cougars have beaten Nebraska, the former NCAA champions. A total of six teams competed.

    Two of BYU’s men finished in the top five all-around, with Fabricio Olsson coming in second and Guard Young fourth. Other standouts included Ernie Higbee, with a third-place finish on floor; Andrew Pileggi, with third on parallel bars; and Courtney Bramwell, Dustin Hill, and Kenzo Koshimura, all coming home with fourth place finishes in vault, rings, and pommel horse respectively.

    The win should raise BYU’s national ranking, which was 17th.

    Coach Mako Sakamoto said the team was “fantastic” and worked hard. He called the meet “exciting.” The team’s score of 226 is its best start ever. Sakamoto says the team still has room for improvement, but feels the team has a shot at making nationals.

    “This is a really exciting time for men’s gymnastics,” Sakamoto said.

    Matt Hammond, a senior member of the team, said the Cougars started the meet on a high and built from there.

    “It was amazing how the team stuck together,” Hammond said.

    He feels positive about the strong start to the team’s season, but, like Coach Sakamoto, said there is always room for improvement. He got particular satisfaction from beating Oklahoma and Nebraska and thinks those teams will be looking for revenge.

    Olsson said although the season is looking good right now, it is always hard to tell what the future holds.

    “Although you try hard, injuries can happen,” he said. “If everyone stays healthy, it should be our best year. I am looking forward to this season.”

    This year’s team is comprised of a good mix of veterans and young blood. Olsson recently returned from Brazil where he is the current national champion.

    The Cougars will compete next Feb. 7 against Arizona State and New Mexico.

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