The luck of BYU’s women’s gymnastics team has been rising as of late and the Cougars will need every bit of it when they compete against nationally ranked Auburn tonight in Alabama.
The Cougars recently earned themselves a few quality victories, with ever-improving performances in all events, even after a slow start to the season and battling through injuries to top performers.
And though wins are nice and help boost confidence, they are not the most important thing to a successful season, said head coach Brad Cattermole.
“The score makes the difference,” Cattermole said.
The higher a team’s scores are overall, the better seed it gets in regional competition, which hopefully makes it little easier for a team to qualify to compete in the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship in April.
BYU earned its highest overall team score of the season in the team’s most recent meet. The Cougars defeated the Aggies 195.525-193.675 on March 5 in Logan. Senior Mickell Merrell said the team has been working all season long to “fix our details” so everyone can perform their best.
“We’ve just been controlling what we can control,” Merrell said. “And not [letting] other factors affect us.”
The team’s strongest performers this season have been seniors Natalie Eyre-Pickard and Krysten Koval, both of whom rank in the top 50 nationally. Pickard is ranked No. 42 on bars and Koval is tied for No. 36 on beam.
“We look better and better each time we go out,” Merrell said.
Merrell also said the most difficult part of this season so far, at least for her, was seeing teammate and close friend Megan Bain get injured in the meet against Utah. Bain, a sophomore, scored 9.725 or above in every event she competed in throughout the first three meets.
Currently ranked No. 33 in the nation, BYU is in for a tough meet against No. 14 Auburn. The Auburn Tigers also rank No. 23 or higher in all four events. The Tigers’ strongest event is bars, with the team averaging a 49.028 this season. Three of Auburn’s gymnasts rank in the top 25 on bars, with each of them averaging above a 9.800 this season. Auburn’s Kylie Shields is ranked No. 24 in the all-around competition.
The meet is Auburn’s last of the regular season as well as the team’s senior night, making it all the more important for the Tigers to finish strong and send their seniors off right. The McWhorter Center should be full with Tigers fans cheering on the team in this final meet.
BYU returns to Provo for their final home meet of the season on March 19.