The BYU gymnastics team completed its first home meet against rival University of Utah with a loss, 196.900–193.350, in the Marriott Center Friday night.
Prior to the meet, BYU head coach Brad Cattermole knew it would be tough to outperform the Utes, who are ranked No. 6 in the nation.
“They’ll do very well; they always do. Our job is to rise to the occasion and be the team we know we can be,” Cattermole said.
The Cougars started on the vault, and junior Makenzie Johnson led with 9.775, followed closely by senior KayCee Gassaway, who scored 9.675. The rest of the team rounded the event out for a total of 48.700 points.
Gassaway held strong in the next event, the uneven bars, where she scored a 9.775. But it was junior Eliane Kulczyk who marked a 9.875, a team high not just on the bars, but for the whole meet. Fellow junior Emily Vidmar added 9.725, for a team score of 48.200 in this event.
BYU trailed Utah by 1.575 after the first two events but Johnson and the Cougars didn’t let the deficit affect their approach.
“We didn’t necessarily change strategy, just mainly refocused to keep going and improve,” Johnson said.
Johnson and freshman Jill Van Mierlo both earned scores of 9.750 on the beam. Vidmar followed with a 9.650, and the team finished the event with a 47.525, its lowest-scoring event of the night.
However on floor, BYU’s final event, the team earned its highest score of 48.925. Vidmar and Van Mierlo both had strong performances, leading the team with 9.825 and 9.800 respectively. Johnson and Gassaway weren’t far behind, as each earned a 9.775.
In all-around competition, Johnson and Van Mierlo both earned 38.400.
Despite its fall to the rival Utes, the team isn’t discouraged and remains optimistic for the rest of the season.
“We’re proud of how we performed,” Johnson said. “There’s definitely room to improve, but it was a good start to the season.”
Cattermole’s comments echoed Johnson’s and affirmed his expectations for the team’s upcoming meets.
“We’ve got a bright future with this team—I’m excited to keep going,” Cattermole said.
Women’s gymnastics will return to Provo to compete against Utah State in the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m.