Brigham Young University opens its women's gymnastics season Thursday night at Southern Utah University as a better team than last year but not as good as the Cougars had hoped to be by this point - still a year or two away.

And Utah State University will find out right away just how good it will be Friday night as it begin its season by hosting Oregon State, a team that is ranked fourth in a preseason poll, based on last year's finish at nationals, but which may be better than that. It's generally agreed by many coaches that Oregon State may have had the best recruiting year of any team.The BYU/Brown/Southern Utah meet at Cedar City begins at 7 p.m. Utah State's Friday-night meet with Oregon State in the Spectrum also starts at 7.

Number-one ranked Utah opens its season Monday night hosting Oregon State in the Huntsman Center.

BYU Coach Brad Cattermole talked much of last year about three strong recruits for this season to push incumbent all-arounders Marianne Williams and Korie Jackman. Turns out he got two good gymnasts, as one backed out at the last minute. One of the recruits is hurt, and so is Jackman, who tore ligaments in the side of one ankle a month ago while doing a simple move in practice. Jackman, a former NCAA finalist, may compete in bars Thursday but won't do floor and vault, the events that really pound ankles.

Cattermole expects freshman Christy McAdams of Ohio to be his No. 1 all-arounder, with Williams No. 2, for now.

Southern Utah was considered one of the most-improved teams in the nation last year when Coach Brent Hardcastle, in his second season, completely changed personnel from the year before. He now has 10 letterwinners returning, topped by Mike Whiddon and Lisa Gomez, from an 11-9 club. Hardcastle's first-year team posted a 1-14 mark. The T-Birds and Brown are teams still on the way up.

Utah State lost its most successful gymnast ever, Tana Davis, to graduation, but Coach Ray Corn fully expects his team to start out Friday night with one of its best scores ever and then improve from there.

"I certainly hope my team is capable of above 187-188," he says, "and if that's the case, whoever wants to win this one had better score 189."