Brigham Young women's gymnastics Coach Brad Cattermole had expected the 1991 season to be the one that put the Cougars into the upper echelon of NCAA teams.

He talked often last season about the recruits he had lined up for this season. They'd be as good as Marianne Squires and Korie Jackman, the Y.'s most accomplished performers ever. At the last minute, though, one of those top people backed out and chose, at her father's urging, to stay near home in Boston, and another got hurt.Add to that an ankle injury to Jackman, who tore ligaments in the side of an ankle a month ago and will be slowed for another month, and things just aren't going as smoothly as expected.

Cattermole still has Christie McAdams, a freshman from Ohio who trained in Georgia, and he projects her as his top all-arounder ahead of Squires and Jackman, even though she still doesn't have the polished execution of the veterans. "She's a fireball," he says, adding he's trying "to temper her." He says she's capable of 9.8 or 9.9 vaults and she's scored in the 9.6+ range without good performances in other events in scrimmages.

McAdams "should take BYU to a new level of competitiveness," Cattermole says.

For now, though, "We're putting along. We need a couple of big guns. We'll be as good as last year, but we won't be a whole bunch better," Cattermole says.

He's also high on freshman Carrie Burk of Annapolis, Md., a good beam worker, but she has a possible stress fracture in a foot and will be sidelined. Cattermole predicts she'll fit into a role vacated by the graduated Bev Snell or Wendy Hutchings - just below the top pegs on the team.

Between them Squires and Jackman hold every BYU record. Jackman's the only Cougar to have ever gone to the NCAA finals.

Squires is team captain in her last year. "Marianne wants to have a good senior year," says Cattermole, who'd like her to be more aggressive in vaulting, her one weakness.

Junior Tammy Packard shares on of Jackman's school records, 9.75 in floor exercise, and will also work beam and vault. Other returnees include Lori McBride, Jane Greenwood, Marnie Hammon, Heidi Radoff, Angela Carone and Shauna Mertz.

- Linda Hamilton