Nationally ranked Auburn defeats BYU as season winds down

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The No. 14 Auburn Tigers handed BYU’s women’s gymnastics team a tough loss on Friday night, taking down the Cougars 195.950-192.575.

BYU started off the night on bars, having a tough time from the beginning. The Cougars counted two falls in this first event and sophomore KayCee Gassaway, who scored a season high 9.825 just two meets ago, only managed a 9.225 against Auburn.

Senior captain Natalie Eyre-Pickard kept the team going with a 9.775, along with freshman Marguerite Lindstrom. Lindstrom had an impressive night on bars, scoring a 9.700, tying her second best score of the season. It was junior Sarah Yandow who led the team on bars with her score of 9.825, tying for third place overall in that event.

Bars have been BYU’s most inconsistent event throughout the whole season. BYU’s 47.500 against Auburn is the team’s worst score of the season on bars, though two meets ago the Cougars scored a season high 49.100.

At the beginning of the season, head coach Brad Cattermole was uncertain of how BYU would perform on vault.

“I think we’ll start out okay, but it might end up being our strongest event by the end of the season,” said Cattermole in a news release.

Cattermole’s prediction was not far off as BYU’s vaulting has remained consistently strong throughout the season. While the team experienced off nights with each of the other three events, the Cougars could always count on strong vaults to keep them going.

Against Auburn, Pickard led the team on vault with her score of 9.825. Sophomore Raquel Willman, after a fall on bars and a disappointing score of 7.200, came back strong with a 9.800. Vault ended up being her best event of the night as she struggled in the all-around competition.

Floor also proved a challenge for BYU as only two of the five gymnasts competing for the Cougars scored a 9.700 or above.  Senior Krysten Koval scored a 9.750 on floor, making her the team’s highest scorer in the event.

BYU excelled on beam, its final rotation of the meet. Four of BYU’s six gymnasts scored a 9.750 or above. Lindstrom scored a career high 9.750, much deserved after her up and down performances this season. Both Koval and fellow senior Jennifer Lezeu scored a 9.800, but once again it was Pickard leading the way for the Cougars. She scored a 9.875 and took first place overall on beam.

BYU competes in its last home meet of the season today at 4 p.m. against Southern Utah in the Smith Fieldhouse. The meet will also be broadcast on BYUtv.

It is also the Cougars’ senior night. BYU has five seniors on its roster: Pickard, Koval, Merrell, Lezeu and Holland Matheson, all of whom will be honored in a ceremony as part of the meet.

After battling injuries during the 2011 season, Matheson only competed once in 2012, in the team’s first meet of the season against N.C. State, before succumbing to injury once again. Set to return to competition against Boise State in BYU’s first home meet of 2012, Matheson was injured in warm-ups, putting her back on the injury list.

Before BYU’s first meet against N.C. State, Matheson said the biggest thing she learned from last season was to be both mentally tough and prepared. Matheson got to practice a different kind of mental toughness this season as she watched her teammates both struggle and succeed meet after meet. Though she did not get to perform along with them, Matheson’s personal lesson applies to the team as a whole. As the Cougars finish up their season, it is more important than ever for them to stay focused and motivated.

“You can always do your skills in practice, but when it comes to competing everyone has to have their minds in the right place,” Matheson said.

The Cougars compete in their final meet of the 2012 season away against the No. 15 Boise State Broncos on March 23.

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