BYU gymnastics tops SUU, finishes regular season on a high note

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Hannah Miner
Angel Zhong performs her beam routine during the meet against SUU, earning a 9.7. (Hannah Miner)

BYU gymnastics closed out the regular season with a solid win of 196.550 over Southern Utah University’s 195.925. Preparing for the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships on March 22, this win gave the Cougars a necessary confidence boost.

Currently averaging a 196.106, the Cougars sit with a 3-2 record in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference. The team hit a season-high score of 197.000 against Boise State University on March 7. Not only did BYU achieve this feat on the road, but this is also the program’s highest score since 2004.

“A 197 is a score we have been chasing for a while now,” BYU head coach Guard Young said. “We knew it was going to come but we weren’t expecting it to happen on the road.”

In addition, all-around star junior Shannon Evans earned a career-best 39.575. This success led to her crowning as Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Gymnast of the Week for the third time this season.

“To have Shannon get the exact score we needed to hit the mark was something special and something I will remember as a coach,” Young said.

BYU earned a second place finish against West Virginia and Arizona State University in a tri-meet on March 13.

With only a day to rest, BYU hosted SUU March 15. The last time the rivals faced was in SUU’s home gym Feb. 22 when the Cougars fell 196.000-195.650. Holding the same record of 3-2 in the conference, SUU and BYU appeared to be evenly matched.

“SUU had a slower start this season, but about halfway through they got it figured out and are hitting their stride,” Young said. “We’re really just going toe to toe with them.”

In the first rotation, the Cougars foreshadowed a promising score based off the fact that two gymnasts, senior Cheyenne Hill and junior Shannon Evans, both earned career-high scores. Evans jumped .025 points, earning a 9.950, while Hill closed out her final regular season vault performance with a 9.875 score, allowing BYU to achieve 2019’s highest vault score of 49.300.

Heading into the second rotation, the Cougars led by .225 points. On bars, junior Angel Zhong tied her career-best score of 9.850. In addition, freshman Helody Cyrenne earned the highest bars score of the night, a 9.875, propelling BYU to pull off a 49.200 score. Topping SUU’s scores on both vault and bars allowed BYU to head onto its beam set with a cushion of .475 points.

This cushion proved to be necessary as BYU earned its third lowest beam score of the season, a 48.800. This would be the team’s only event score under 49.000 throughout the night.

Hannah Miner
Cheyenne Hill competes on the beam for her final regular-season performance. (Hannah Miner)

First up for BYU, Hill maintained a small smile throughout her entire routine, sticking her landing on her final dismount in the Smith Fieldhouse. Young became sentimental as Hill and senior Natasha Marsh gave their final regular-season performances on the beam.

“I love their work ethic because I’m a worker and that’s how I was as a gymnast,” Young said. “I think that’s the key to success, and I’m really going to miss their leadership and work ethic.”

While Young enjoys the ecstatic reactions of his athletes after a solid routine, he refrains from watching the entirety of their performances due to his nerves.

“I don’t like the balance beam,” Young said. “My hands are over my eyes, and I peek through the cracks on the important parts. I do a lot of pacing.”

While the third rotation was the least solid for the Cougars, the team still held a .325 lead. Evans shined on the floor, matching her career-high score of 9.950. The team finished on a strong note, nearly doubling their lead to .625 points.

“We did have some mistakes, but the next girls picked it right up,” Young said. “I was really happy with our response when things didn’t go our way.”

The Cougars will host the MRGC Championships on March 22 in the Marriott Center.

“It’s going to be a heck of a match,” Young said. “We’re going to go out there and lay it all out on the mat.”

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