Utah Utes gymnastics: Individual competitors stand tall at regionals
SALT LAKE CITY — Competing in her first NCAA regional gymnastics meet would have been nerve-wracking under any conditions.
But to be competing without the benefit and support of teammates makes fighting for a spot at nationals just a bit tougher.
Still, for the gymnasts who qualified for the NCAA Salt Lake Regional as individuals, the experience of competing alone was made inviting by the welcome they got from their assigned teams and the University of Utah crowd.
Senior Rebecca Holliday said she was surprised at how welcoming the fans were to the individual competitors.
"That was really cool," she said smiling. "That felt great."
Of the five individual all-around competitors, Utah State's Sarah Landes was the top finisher. She earned a 38.325, and had a shot at qualifying for nationals until she fell during her final routine — the balance beam.
"I couldn't even watch the beam," said Aggies head coach Jeff Richards. "She had a shot to be there, and she had three great events. It is a great building block for us."
The Aggies had three athletes competing — Holliday, Landes and Paige Jones.
"We're really excited to be here," Richards said. "The leadership these two will bring back will really help us. They were really strong and confident."
Each individual competitor was assigned to a team and Landes competed with Utah. Richards thought that was a fortuitous placement.
"If there was a place for her to be, that was it," he said smiling.
Competing alone is not easy.
"It's tough coming in as an individual," Richards said.
Air Force Academy's Linnaea Hance finished 14th in the all-around competition with a score of 38.225; BYU's Raquel Willman was 15th with a score of 38.200; USU's Holliday was 16th with a score of 38.175; and USU's Jones was 20th with a score of 35.400.
BYU's Natalie Pickard tied for 11th place on the vault with a score of 9.8, and she also earned a score of 9.65 on the uneven bars, which put her in 25th place.
Two gymnasts competed in specific events. Southern Utah University's Alyssa Click finished in 21st place on the beam with a score of 9.675. BYU's Krysten Koval earned 27th place with a score of 9.75 on the floor.
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