Cougars fall at home to nationally ranked Pioneers

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The BYU’s women’s gymnastics team lost to No. 17 Denver on Friday night, losing 193.750-191.850.

It was a close meet after the first two rotations but things slowly fell apart for the Cougars. BYU is recovering from a rash of injuries that struck some of the team’s strongest competitors in recent weeks. Head coach Brad Cattermole said he is looking for people to step up to the challenge.

“We can’t worry about who’s injured,” Cattermole said. “We are what we are and [we’re] capable of doing better.”

Freshman Jordan Schult made her second appearance of the season on vault, significantly improving from last week’s meet against Boise State. Schult scored a 9.800 compared to her 9.475 the week before. After a tough routine on beam, she came back with good performance on floor, scoring a 9.625.

Senior captain Natalie Pickard led the way in the Cougars’ first event of the night, with the judges awarding her a 9.825 on vault. After the first rotation, it seemed like BYU would make a strong showing in the meet. Four of the six gymnasts competing on vault for BYU scored a 9.725 or higher. Sophomore Raquel Willman, BYU’s sole all-around competitor, scored a 9.750 on vault.

BYU’s next event was bars. Pickard was awarded for her performance with a score of 9.825 and Willman was on track for a great night as well, scoring a 9.775.

Things continued going well for Willman as she scored a 9.725 on beam, leading the team in that event along with senior Krysten Koval who also scored a 9.725.

However, Willman struggled on floor, scoring only a 9.000. Senior Mickell Merrell scored 9.725 on floor, leading the team in that event. The next highest score for BYU was Schult’s 9.625.

Cattermole said he could not remember the last time the team had such a bad night on floor. It is usually one of BYU’s strongest events. Friday, the team scored a 47.050 while its season high is 48.800.

So despite some strong performances by individuals, the team as a whole had an off night, one that was filled with falls and stumbles in all the events. No single event was very strong for the Cougars. Cattermole even described falling as contagious. Once one person goes down, suddenly it seems to go through the whole team and everyone gets “caught in a downward spiral,” he said.

Senior Jennifer Lezeu said the team has done well in practice and just needs to transfer that over to competition.

“You just can’t think about the mistakes,” Lezeu said. “We need to go back in the gym and get motivated and excited.”

Now 1-4 on the season, BYU next travels to the University of Arizona for a meet on Feb. 17.

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