BYU women’s gymnastics earns season-high scores in loss to Utah State

Bryan Pearson
Byu gymnast Taylor Howard on the high beam January 23, 2015, in a meet against Utah State University. (Bryan Pearson)

The BYU women’s gymnastics team lost to Utah State in a tight competition, 195.500 to 195.300, Friday night at the Smith Feildhouse.

The meet featured performances and improvement for the team, led by freshman Jill Van Mierlo, who scored 39.225 points overall. Van Mierlo took second in the all-around competition and marked career highs in three of her four events.

“Jill’s a freshman, and she did really well,” head coach Brad Cattermole said. “Tonight she seemed to put it together.”

Makenzie Johnson and KayCee Gassaway also gave strong performances, but BYU’s eventual trouble on the balance beam allowed the Aggies to seize control.

The Cougars kicked off the meet on vault. All the gymnasts either matched or exceeded their season-high scores. Johnson led the team with 9.850, but Van Mierlo and Eliane Kulczyk weren’t far behind, both with a score of 9.825. Jordan Schult and Gassaway also added solid scores of 9.775 for a team total of 49.050.

Kulczyk continued BYU’s success on the uneven bars with a team-high 9.850. Johnson and Gassaway scored 9.825 and 9.775, respectively, upping the team’s event total to 48.850 and maintaining a lead against the Aggies after the first two events.

BYU then struggled on the beam despite a season-high score of 9.800 from Van Mierlo. Schult contributed 9.625, while Johnson and Vidmar each added a 9.600. The beam was the team’s lowest-scoring event of the night and, conversely, the Aggies’ highest.

“They (Utah State) outdid themselves on beam,” Cattermole said. “When you can do that well on beam it gives you a big advantage.”

The Cougars finished the meet on the floor even stronger than they started on vault, and all gymnasts once again marked season or career highs. Both Gassaway and Johnson earned 9.875, and Van Mierlo scored 9.850. Vidmar’s 9.825 and Kulczyk’s 9.800 rounded out the event score to 49.225. However, the performance wasn’t enough to completely recover the team’s beam losses.

BYU’s final score of 195.300 is its best so far this season, and the team plans to keep improving.

“We’re definitely on the climb upwards, and I think we’re just going to get better from here,” Van Mierlo said.

The Cougars compete next in an away meet at Southern Utah University on Jan. 30, but will return to Provo on Saturday, Feb. 7, to face Boise State and the University of Denver.

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