By JAMES RANDALL
The women’s gymnastics team will welcome the Smith Fieldhouse with open arms Thursday night, Feb. 24.
After being on the road for over a month, they’re coming home. The team has not been home since January 14 when it met Oregon in the Marriott Center.
“We’re looking forward to coming home,” head coach Brad Cattermole said. “We haven’t been home all season. The kids are looking forward to a home crowd.”
Two of the freshman gymnasts agree.
“I think it’s more exciting to be in front of the home crowd,” said Karen Nielsen.
“I think it makes it more fun. You have more support,” echoed fellow freshman Hayley Love.
This will be the second meet with the Aggies in just two weeks. The Cougars lost to Utah State two weeks ago in Logan by a mere tenth of a point.
The Cougars have scored over 195 points in their last three meets since scoring a season-high 195.800 in a loss at Utah on Feb. 4. BYU most recently scored a 195.425 against Stanford on Feb. 21.
It doesn’t matter who beats us, all they care about are the scores,” Cattermole said. “Everybody wants to win. If you say I don’t care if we win, that’s not true, but the most important thing is the scores.”
That is, until the postseason. According to Cattermole, the team competes against themselves during the regular season, trying to improve individual scores. But in Regionals and Nationals, all that matters is who wins.
“If someone said, ‘We’ll give you a 196 tomorrow, but you’ll lose to Utah State by a tenth of a point,’ I’d say, ‘Done, we’ll see ‘ya at Regionals,’ but in Regionals it doesn’t matter. If we score a 197, and everyone else scores a 198, we go home,” Cattermole said.
According to Marisa Cosgrave, a BYU gymnast from Highland, the change of mentality from focusing on scores in the regular season to focusing on competition in the postseason isn’t really much of a change at all.
“I think it’s the same thing — just hit our routines. If you try and change things, you have a hard time,” Cosgrave said. “If we go in and hit our stuff, we’ll do fine.”
The Cougars, ranked No. 12, are preparing for Regionals on April 1. Six teams compete in each region: the top four teams from each region and two from the top twelve in the country. The top two teams in each of the six regions advance to Nationals.
“Our region is probably the hardest region to qualify for, but we’ll make it,” Cattermole said. “Our chances to go to Nationals are really good. If we hit our routines and continue to improve, it’s gonna happen.”
The meet is at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars will face another in-state rival on February 29 when they travel to Southern Utah University.