Makenzie Halliday’s personal score of 38.875 earned her the highest all-around score, but it wasn’t enough for the Cougars as they fell to the University of Utah 196.175-193.850 on Friday night in Salt Lake City.
“Our team was outstanding today, but you’re not going to beat Utah coming up with some mistakes,” BYU head coach Guard Young said. “You’re going to have to be absolutely perfect.”
The Cougars started off strong on the uneven bars with freshman Natasha Trejo earning a 9.700 and sophomore Brittni Wilde scoring a 9.775. Emily Vidmar contributed to the team score with 9.675 and Halliday added her own score of 9.650. Mackenzie Douglas received a 9.475 and while Jill Van Mierlo fell, she recovered to earn an 8.975, bringing the total team score to 48.275.
The Utes performed strong on the vault. Five of their six gymnasts scored 9.725 or higher, and senior Breanna Hughes tied her career-best with a score of 9.825. The Cougars found themselves trailing 48.950-48.275 after the first rotation.
BYU improved on the vault. Sophomore Sin To earned the team’s highest score, posting a 9.775 and freshman Cheyenne Hill received a 9.750. A 9.700 from Douglas, a 9.600 from Halliday and matching scores of 9.650 from Van Mierlo and Mikaela Jones gave the team a total vault score of 48.525.
For Utah, sophomore Baely Rowe’s 9.925 on the uneven bars was a career best. Five other Ute scores of 9.750 or higher on the bars had them increasing their lead against the Cougars after the second rotation, 98.175-96.800.
BYU trailed into the third rotation but Utah’s MaKenna Merrell stumbled on the balance beam, leaving an opportunity for the Cougars to close the gap. Trejo and Douglas added matching scores of 9.650 on the floor and To earned a 9.725 while Jones contributed a 9.600. Upbeat music and spunky routines from Vidmar and Halliday rewarded them with scores of 9.750 and 9.800, respectively. The Cougars received their highest rotation score of the night with 48.575 but Rowe’s moonwalk tribute to Michael Jackson and other strong routines from the Utah gymnasts lifted them over BYU with a team score of 48.975. Utah distanced themselves from BYU, 147.150-145.375 after three rotations.
The Cougars took to the balance beam for their fourth and final rotation. Trejo and Van Mierlo earned matching 9.650 scores while Jones and To added 9.600 and 9.500, respectively. Vidmar and Halliday did well on the beam, earning a 9.750 and a 9.825, raising the Cougars’ score to 48.475. Utah’s Kari Lee fell during her floor routine but her teammates made up for the mistake with multiple scores of 9.75 or higher. Utah’s floor score of 49.025 was their lowest rotation score of the night but was enough to edge out BYU in the final rotation.
The Cougars will travel to Central Michigan University on Jan. 15 for their next meet.