PROVO—It took a school-record performance for the University of Denver to edge Boise State in the final rotation of the inaugural Mountain Rim gymnastics championship on Saturday. The 20th-ranked Pioneers trailed No. 17 Boise State after three rotations, but hit for a school-best 49.475 on vault to sneak past the Broncos, 196.925-196.9.
The finish was much different from the Pioneers’ slow start that came after they sat through the first rotation with a bye. Denver began on bars, but only hit for a 48.85. That put the Pioneers behind early, but they kept clawing back with a 49.2 on beam and a 49.4 on floor before the stellar performance on vault.
Denver coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said her team had been playing with its lineups, and those changes likely had more to do with the slow start than the bye. She credited her team with not panicking, and rather just focusing on one routine at a time to finish with the season-high score.
It looked like No. 25 BYU would finish ahead of Southern Utah and Utah State for in-state bragging rights, but an inquiry was granted to push the T-Birds ahead into the third spot at 196.125 to BYU’s 196.1 and USU’s 196.075. The effort was Southern Utah’s best score of the season.
“I’m really proud of some things we did today, but we also had some uncharacteristic mistakes,” said SUU coach Scott Bauman. “This was a fun meet that will help us get ready for regionals.”
Southern Utah was about as consistent with its scoring as a team could be. It hit 49.025 on vault, beam and floor, while it recorded a 49.05 on bars. The Thunderbirds closed on beam and had to hit their final four routines, of which three were from freshmen, to avoid counting a fall by their best beam worker, Ana Jaworski.
KayCee Gassaway led BYU, hitting a career-best 9.9 on vault while tying her career high of 9.875 on the uneven bars. Mackenzie Johnson hit a 9.9 on floor and Eliane Kulczyk added a 9.875 to give BYU its best event score at 49.15.
“It was our first conference championship in some 20-odd years. I was really pleased with our team,” said BYU coach Brad Cattermole. “Our one struggle came on vault.”
Cougar vaulter Jordan Schult fell in her attempt, which forced BYU to count a 9.575 from Rachel Tucker. Cattermole admitted Tucker is in the lineup only as a backup if someone falls and isn’t expected to go if they don’t have a fall. The coach was especially pleased with Gassaway’s effort.
“KayCee did awesome. She hates going up first on vault, but we put her up first because she doesn’t fall. She’s been complaining it’s hard to score in the first position, and today she hit a 9.9," Cattermole said.
Utah State posted its best score of the season at 196.075. That score meant all five teams in the championship hit for a 196.0 or higher. All five teams have already qualified for the NCAA regionals.
The MRGC honored Cattermole with Coach of the Year honors. Southern Utah’s Memory Shettles and Boise State’s Diana Mejia were jointly named Freshmen of the Year and BSU’s Ciera Perkins received Gymnast of the Year honors.
Denver’s Moriah Martin won the vault with a 9.95. Boise State’s Kelsey Morris and Perkins each hit for a 9.925 to share the bars’ title. Denver’s Jorie Hill and Nina McGee won the beam with 9.925s, and McGee and Perkins tied for the floor win with scores of 9.925. Morris grabbed the all-around title with a 39.5.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company