Though the team as a whole will not compete, three of BYU’s finest gymnasts head up to Salt Lake City to compete at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Regional Championships on Saturday.
Seniors Krysten Koval and Natalie Eyre-Pickard and sophomore Raquel Willman are BYU’s sole representatives. The three gymnasts will be among competitors from Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa State, Arizona State and San Jose State, as well as at-large competitors from Utah State, Air Force, Southern Utah and San Jose State.
Koval and Pickard perform at the Salt Lake regional as individual event specialists and Willman as an at-large all-arounder. Koval will compete on floor and is an alternate on beam. Pickard will compete on both vault and bars. Currently, Pickard is tied for No. 66 in the nation on vault and tied for No. 44 on bars. Willman is in a tie for No. 31 in the nation in the all-around competition.
Willman counted at least one fall in the last few meets of the season, while her toughest event recently has been bars, though she had done well in the event at the start of the season. So after a disappointing end to the season, Willman hopes to make the most of her time at the regional competition.
“I didn’t have the best last meets and being able to have another chance makes me determined,” Willman said. “It should be interesting competing individually. I’m just not used to it but I’ll be with some amazing gymnasts.”
Koval feels the same as Willman, noting how “it won’t be the same competing as an individual.” After an entire season of competing with the team for every meet and training with each other each week, competing individually at regionals makes for a different atmosphere. Though gymnastics is technically “individual,” members of the team are never far away and always cheer each other on.
“I really wish my whole team could be on the floor with me,” Koval said. “My goal for the meet is to perform at my absolute best, so I can go out on a high note.”
Koval and Pickard, both seniors, are arguably BYU’s best gymnasts and continually displayed their consistency and talent throughout the 2012 season while showing what it takes to succeed at the collegiate level. On floor this season, Koval scored a career high of 9.900 and will be tough to beat on beam if she gets the chance as an alternate. This past season she scored a 9.900 multiple times and earned a new career high of 9.950. Pickard consistently scored a 9.800 or above on both vault and bars, nor was it unusual for her to score as high as 9.875.
All three of the gymnasts said they were eager to perform their best not only for themselves and the team but also for the school. As the only three competing from BYU, Pickard, Koval and Willman all hope to do well because winning at the regional competition is the only thing that stands in the way of competing at nationals.
“My parents and old coaches will be there so it will feel like old times,” Willman said. “I’m excited to have fun and try my best because that’s all I can do. I’m honored to be able to represent the school and make the team proud.”