Nationally-ranked BYU gymnastics tops USU

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Hannah Miner
Natasha Marsh helps BYU with a meet-high 9.9 on the beam. (Hannah Miner)

BYU gymnastics held onto its No. 16 national ranking in a meet against the Utah State University Aggies on Jan. 25. A record-breaking crowd of 5,285 fans, consisting largely of elementary school children for the annual Kid’s Meet, propelled BYU to notch a 196.450-195.025 win.

The rivalry between No. 34 USU and BYU dates back to 1978. Since USU’s three-meet winning streak in 2017, the team from Logan, Utah, has failed to top BYU. On Jan. 18, the Cougars conquered the Aggies in their first 2019 face-off.

Although BYU won the Jan. 18 meet, the Cougars posted their lowest final score of the 2019 season, 194.575. The last time the Cougars posted a similar score was in their 2018 season opener against the University of Utah, when they earned a 194.275.

“Last week’s loss felt like a win and this week’s win feels like a loss,” BYU head coach Guard Young said following the Jan. 18 meet. “We did not do what we need to do to be one of the top teams.”

Young and the gymnasts reflected on lessons learned following the meet.

“It was a hard lesson, but what we learned is to not focus on the scores, not focus on what’s going on around us and just hone in on what we’re doing as a team and individually,” junior Shannon Evans said.

BYU and USU faced each other again in back-to-back meets on Jan. 25. Young said he knew a home environment would boost his team’s scores this time around.

“It helps to be at home and have thousands of screaming kids cheering us on. It’s awesome,” Young said. “I’m really proud of how the girls handled it; it’s hard to train for that. I believe that good energy makes for good gymnastics and we had that today.”

Hannah Miner
Shannon Evans performs her crowd-pleasing “Super Mario Brothers” routine. (Hannah Miner)

Coming off a subpar win last week, rotation one for BYU failed to foreshadow Young’s desired total score of at least 196. On the vault, the team managed a score of 48.950, tying USU.

Senior captain Natasha Marsh and freshman Helody Cyrenne matched their career highs on beam in the third rotation, contributing greatly to the widened score gap. 

“That isn’t actually my routine,” Marsh said. “I have a backup series so if I don’t connect my front flip to a back handspring, because it feels crooked or feels off, I can just step up and a do a back handspring to a back layout.”

Natasha Marsh ties her career-high score of 9.9 on beam. (Hannah Miner)

BYU’s shining moments happened in the final rotation of the day when the Cougars racked up a 49.325, their highest beam score of the season. The previous high was 49.025.

USU’s Madison Ward, who carries 27 career titles, took a fall on beam in the final rotation resulting in a 9.2. This secured a win for the Cougars after their solid floor set.

The good energy mentioned by Young propelled the Cougars to improve their final score by 1.875 points compared to last week’s run against USU.

BYU has been ranked as high as No. 6 in the country this season after not receiving national recognition before the season began. This ranking came after an impressive start to the season, when the Cougars posted a 196.475 in their season-opening loss to No. 4 Utah. After posting a season-low score of 194.475 in their first of two meets against USU on Jan. 18, the Cougars dropped to No. 16 in the national poll.

This week, BYU hits the road to take on Cal and Arizona State on Saturday, Feb. 2.

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