Men’s gymnastics scores big, beats Spartans

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    By KAREN DUFFIN

    0Fourteen hundred fans got their money’s worth Friday night as the men’s gymnastics team twisted and flipped its way to a record-setting victory. Setting a school record of 228.75, the Cougars rocked the Smith Fieldhouse, beating eastern powerhouse Michigan State.

    The high marks started on the floor as BYU set the standard with the night’s best event score of 38.5. Seniors Trent Wells and Fabricio Olsson dazzled the crowd with Wells tying his career-best score of 9.65. Olsson came tied his season-best score with a solid 9.75.

    Moving on from floor exercises, the Cougars scored big on the pommel as sophomore Guard Young took the event with a 9.7 and senior Nat Hammond scored a 9.5.

    Courtney Bramwell took rings, and Young won vault with a 9.65.

    Hammond scored a solid 9.6 on parallel bars, but was beat by teammate Chris Hart who took the event with a 9.75.

    Finishing off on the event that has given them the most trouble all season, the Cougars took first and second on the high bar. This event has cost the team points throughout much of the season as the gymnasts have failed to catch the bar meet after meet. The tables turned Friday as the team was finally able to pull through.

    “We came through on the high bar. We have finally been hitting it more in practice so it wasn’t a surprise that we got it in the meet,” coach Mako Sakamoto said.

    Young took first in this event with Rob Rimpini close behind with a season-best score of 9.75. But, again, it was Olsson who electrified the crowd with a full-twisting Gingher and plenty of his trademark flair.

    This was the farewell meet for four of BYU’s seniors, including Brazilian national champion Olsson, Nat Hammond, Trent Wells, and Jason Foreman.

    Sakamoto said the team will miss the solid performances of Foreman and Wells and the spirit Hammond brings to the team.

    The team will particularly miss the spunk and powerful performances of Olsson.

    “He will be hard to replace. He has been a mainstay for four years now,” Sakamoto said.

    Olsson still has a year left before he leaves BYU. He may still be seen around the gymnastics team as Sakamoto intends to offer him the option of helping coach next year. Olsson will probably continue training for shot at representing Brazil in the 2000 Olympics, where he is the current national champion.

    Although this was the final home meet, the gymnasts have at least one more month of competition ahead of them. Sakamoto is hopeful for the remaining half of the season.

    “We just need to pick up the intensity and try to make it to nationals. We need to be on top of our game and have our best meet on April 4 in the NCAA West Regionals,” Sakamoto said.

    The Cougars compete again in their last regular season meet on March 14 at New Mexico. That will be their final competition before heading to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship on March 27.

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