Cougar gymnasts defeat Aggies and Thunderbirds in tri-meet


BYU’s women’s gymnastics team used a team score of 194.100 to beat Southern Utah (193.925) and Utah State (193.675) on Saturday.

There was constant action in the Smith Fieldhouse as the three teams competed in their respective events simultaneously. Competing against two in-state schools made the meet even more intense. BYU started on vault, USU on bars and SUU on beam.

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Mickell Merrell competes on the floor Saturday afternoon during the Gymnastics meet held at the Smith Fieldhouse.
All six gymnasts competing for BYU on vault scored a 9.725 or higher. Senior captain Natalie Pickard led BYU with her score of 9.875. Junior Sarah Yandow and sophomore Raquel Willman both scored a 9.850 and tied their career highs. Senior Mickell Merrell also set a career high as she scored a 9.825. Vault ended up being BYU’s best event overall and that momentum carried them through the meet.

BYU’s second rotation was bars. Pickard once again led the way for BYU, scoring 9.825. Willman also had a strong routine and scored 9.800.

BYU had two falls within the first three performances on bars which set them back. Head coach Brad Cattermole said this next week he was looking for the team to “get [its] act together” because in practice this last week and during the meet the team struggled.

Willman said the beginning of the meet was kind of a struggle but wearing the pink leotards helped. For all of last season the Cougars wore pink to honor trainer Gaye Merrill, who passed away from breast cancer.

“It was like having a little bit of last year with us,” Willman said. “We were determined to have great energy throughout.”

After the first two rotations, BYU was in the lead with an overall team score of 97.250. Right behind them was SUU with a score of 97.00 and USU was in third with a score of 96.300.

BYU’s third rotation was beam and Willman scored a 9.825, showing great consistency. Pickard scored a 9.850, which meant she led the team in all three of her events and scored a 9.825 or above on all of them.

After the third rotation, Southern Utah took the lead with an overall team score of 145.400 and BYU was in second with a score of 145.275. Utah State was in third with an overall score of 145.050. With the scores so close, the outcome of the meet came down to this final rotation, which for BYU was floor.

All six gymnasts scored a 9.700 or above on floor. Willman scored a 9.800, displaying nearly unmatched consistency throughout the entire meet. Senior Krysten Koval really sealed the deal for BYU as she scored a 9.825 to finish things off.

On all four events, Willman scored a 9.800 or above and won the all-around competition with a total score of 39.275.

Overall, Cattermole was happy with his team’s performances, but said he knew the gymnasts can still do better, and while winning the meet is nice, all he cares about is the scores because “the scores make the difference.” The higher a team’s scores are during the regular season, the better seed they will get during regional competition.

“Had we done what we’re capable of doing,” Cattermole said, “we could have scored in the 195s. They rescued themselves from what could have been a bad meet.”

BYU’s next competition is away from home, against Texas Women’s on March 3.

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