BYU gymnastics celebrates seniors in final home meet, a loss to SUU

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In their last home meet of the 2012 season and on senior night, BYU’s women’s gymnastics team lost to Southern Utah 194.800-194.250 on Monday.

At the end of the season, the Cougars lose stalwart performers Natalie Eyre-Pickard, Krysten Koval, Mickell Merrell, Jennifer Lezeu and Holland Matheson. Matheson has battled injuries during most of her time at BYU but remained an integral part of the team. Head coach Brad Cattermole had only good things to say about this year’s seniors and will be sad to see them go.

“They’re a very hard working class,” Cattermole said. “They’ve been beat up more than a lot of classes and that’s hard to do when you know you can do better than you are.”

BYU defeated Southern Utah the two other times the teams met this season. In this meet, the seniors really did lead the way, but it was a great night for the entire team as multiple gymnasts earned or tied their season bests. Merrell was impressed with how the team stepped up during senior night, even though their hard work did not lead to a win.

“They were really motivated. They wanted to do well for us,” Merrell said.”It was kind of like their last gift [and] send off to us, so it was really nice.”

In their last home meet as Cougars, Koval and Eyre-Pickard both scored a 9.800 on vault. Merrell scored a 9.750 to round out BYU’s top three performers in the event. Koval’s 9.800 on vault was her season best.

As a senior, Merrell was “thrilled” for her last meet with the Cougars, even more so because of the people who came to support her .

“All my family came and it was just fun to be here with the people I love and have them be able to see me do the best that I’ve done,” Merrell said.

Following the first rotation, Southern Utah led 49.175-48.550 thanks to five of their six gymnasts scoring a 9.800 or higher on bars. The Thunderbirds were led by Alyssa Click, who scored a 9.875.

Unfortunately, in the second rotation, BYU had a few falls on bars. The Cougars have struggled on and off this season in the event. Cattermole was once again disappointed in his team’s performance on bars, especially because he considers bars to be the team’s best event.

“The last two meets we’ve done the exact same thing,” Cattermole said. “There’s no reason for it at all. … It’s just kind of losing your focus, not quite staying in the game when you need to. … But those things happen and you have to learn from it and come back stronger the next time.”

However, three gymnasts scored a 9.800 or higher. Eyre-Pickard scored a 9.875 to tie her career best. Sophomore KayCee Gassaway earned her season best in scoring a 9.875 as well. Junior Sarah Yandow, one of BYU’s most consistent performers on bars, scored a season high 9.800.

On beam, sophomore Raquel Willman earned herself a 9.750 and right behind her was freshman Jordan Hayden with a 9.725. This was Hayden’s best score of the season on beam. Eyre-Pickard and Koval once again led the Cougars, both scoring a 9.825.

After the first three rotations, Southern Utah still led the Cougars 146.425-145.375.

Hayden started the Cougars off on floor and scored another season best with her 9.800. Merrell scored a 9.825 on floor to finish off her night strong. Lezeu, who had an off night on both bars and beam, scored a 9.775 on floor. All of BYU’s gymnasts competing on floor scored a 9.700 or above, making it the Cougars’ strongest event of the night. The team ended with a score of 48.875.

Cattermole is confident the team will improve for the final meet of the regular season against Boise State on Friday.

“They keep fighting and we will keep fighting until the last meet’s over,” he said.

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