BYU gymnastics takes a loss on senior night

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Ari Davis
Jill Van Mierlo competes on the floor in the final meet at BYU against USU and CMU. (Ari Davis)

BYU gymnast Makenzie Johnson took first place in the all-around competition, but the BYU gymnastics team took last against the first-place Central Michigan University Chippewa and second-place Utah State University Aggies (196.150-195.100-194.400).

The March 6 loss came on the Cougars’ senior night, where the team honored KayCee Gassaway, Ashley Robinson and Jordan Schult at the conclusion of the meet for their contributions to the team. Robinson said the senior night festivities added pressure, but it was more of a celebration with their parents, family, friends and teammates.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Robinson said. “It makes it more fun that people are here watching and get to see what I’ve worked hard for.”

BYU began on the vault and registered 48.825 points, an average score relative to their performance throughout the season. All-around competitors Johnson and Jill Van Mierlo led the team with 9.825 and 9.800 respectively. Van Mierlo displayed her consistency, earning the same solid 9.800 in five of the last seven meets. Senior Gassaway, sophomore Sin To and junior Mikaela Jones contributed to the team’s final score that put it in second place to Central Michigan after one rotation.

Van Mierlo earned the first 9.900 of her career on the uneven bars. Her score was the team’s highest again, but sophomore Brittni Wilde came in second with a 9.825 in her impressive career debut. Gassaway, Johnson and Emily Vidmar all added 9.775 each, and the team scored a season-high 49.050 points. But BYU still trailed the Chippewa by 0.150 points after two rotations.

“I was really pleased with Brittni Wilde coming in … her first meet,” BYU head coach Brad Cattermole said. “She’s been in position to compete in the past but gotten hurt, so now she’s healthy and going again, and she just did a great job for us.”

The Cougars’ momentum swung the opposite direction on the balance beam, and the team earned 47.350, its lowest score of the season. Only Johnson and senior Schult stayed on the beam during the event. Johnson scored 9.800, and Schult added 9.725; but none of the other gymnasts’ scores were higher than 9.350, and BYU fell to third place.

There was little BYU could do to recover its losses on the floor, even though the team’s event score of 49.175 was its second-highest of the season. Johnson, Vidmar and Gassaway all earned 9.875, which tied a season high for Vidmar and a career-high for Gassaway. Van Mierlo scored 9.825, and Schult added 9.725. The final event was the Cougars’ highest-scoring of the meet, but the Cougars still lost to first-place CMU by 1.775 and second-place USU by 0.675.

The team still has another meet and the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference championships before the season’s over. Schult said the team will continue to work hard and finish the year out strong, especially for her last few competitions.

“I’ve scored my career-highs this season,” Schult said. “This is probably my best season so far, so I just want to end with a bang.”

The Cougars will compete against the Aggies again Friday for the last meet of the regular season. The Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference championships will be held in Denver on March 21.

“This is the time of year you’ve got to put it together,” Cattermole said. “We’ve got to do better in our next meet.”

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