SUU, BYU gymnastics: Coaches see some bright spots

Published: Saturday, Feb. 7 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Southern Utah gymnastics coach Scott Bauman thought his team was finally going to hit on all cylinders Friday night at the Huntsman Center. But after his team hit its first 22 routines, the final two Thunderbirds fell on the bars. The falls left a bitter taste in Bauman's mouth and reminded him that the consistency he wants is still just not there.
"This team has the ability to be good," said Bauman. "Through three events we were doing pretty well, I think 18-of-18. The last three kids really did not do very well and they're three of the best anchor, bar anchor, kids I think in the country. They're so much better than that.
"It would be nice to walk away from this thinking 'hey we did a good job,' but I want this team to hit, they need to hit, and that's all there is to it, and they can."
Not all was lost in the meet, though. The 194.325-score helped the T-Birds finish second to the home team, Utah. The beam had two highlights with freshman Gaby Grey scoring a career-best and Elise Wheeler tying her season best at 9.825.
"There were a lot of positives," said Bauman. "Gaby Grey on beam, a freshman who had struggled. She got a 9.8, she did fantastic. Lauren Jeffrey, our other freshman, did floor and bars and did great. Elise Wheeler did three events and looked incredible before the fall."
Bauman was optimistic despite the frustrations and said the coaches are very close to finally having the lineups they need.
The third Utah team, BYU, had its frustrations and highlights as well. After a three-week layoff, BYU's struggled early but managed to produce its best score of the season at 192.85. The first two Cougar competitors on the bars fell, not making for the start the Cougs wanted.
"It's never a good thing to have that long of a layoff in the middle of the season, but for us it probably was a good thing because we were so young going in we needed time to just step back and say let's do our thing," said BYU coach Brad Cattermole. "Before, they (the gymnasts) couldn't hit in workouts. Now at least we are hitting in workouts and we just need to carry it over to the meet. I think if we do we'll be fine."
After the bad start, BYU went on to score season-bests on the floor and vault. Overall, 11 career individual bests were recorded by the Cougars. Megan Donehue hit career highs in her three events. Donehue helped anchor the Cougars on the bars with a 9.725 and added a 9.825 on the beam and a 9.875 on the vault. Donehue and Krysten Koval's vault score of 9.875 was the highest score of the season for a BYU gymnast in any event.
"We've been killing ourselves in the gym trying to get better and I just had a good meet," said Donehue.
"It definitely wasn't the start we wanted, but in the end with vault, we ended great. I couldn't have asked for a better end."

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