LOGAN — Utah State's gymnastics team was picked tied for third in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Gymnastics Poll, as selected by the league’s coaches and announced Monday by the conference office.

USU was tied with San Jose State, both garnering nine points. League newcomer Denver was selected as the league’s favorite to win the conference title, collecting 15 points and three first-place votes. Southern Utah, the 2010 WAC champion, earned second-place with 13 points and two first-place votes. USU and SJSU were followed by Sacramento State with four points.

“Denver replacing Boise State ensures that the WAC will continue to be a highly-competitive gymnastics conference from top to bottom, as it has been in years past. We’re glad to have Denver in the conference; they are a very tough team. It is a surprise to be tied with San Jose State; they had a great team last year, made it to regionals and have a large and very talented recruiting class coming in. They are going to be a tough team,” USU head coach Jeff Richards said.

The Aggies return eight letter-winners from last season’s squad that sent five gymnasts to the NCAA Regional Championships, the most in Richards’ time at the helm of the Aggie program.

“We are excited to start the season. This preseason poll is a good starting point, but our goal is to contend for the conference championship at the end of the year and we are very excited for the opportunity to host the conference meet,” Richards said.

Utah State is the host institution for the 2012 WAC Championships on Saturday, March 24. It will be the first time since 2006, USU’s first year in the conference, that the Aggies will host the WAC Championships.

Overall, it will be the seventh time that Utah State has hosted its conference meet. USU previously hosted the WAC Championships in 2006, the Western Gymnastics Conference Championships in 2002, the Big West Conference Championships in 1992, 1996 and 2000, as well as the High Country Athletic Conference Championships in 1988.

USU gymnastics will be conducting a free youth clinic on Saturday for boys and girls ages 6-12. The clinic will start at noon and will be held in the USU gymnastics practice gym, Room 211 in the HPER building on the Utah State campus at 700 North in Logan.

The clinic, which will be conducted by Richards, his coaching staff and the Aggie gymnastics team, will last approximately one hour. Participants will learn basic gymnastics skills and have the opportunity to use the same equipment used by the USU Gymnastics team. The clinic is limited to 60 participants and it is nearly half full.

Following the clinic, the Aggie gymnastics team will sign autographs for the participants.

To register, email the participants’ and parent/guardians name(s), phone number, address and age of participants to GymnasticsClinic@UtahStateAggies.com. The first 60 participants to register will be admitted to the clinic. A confirmation email will be sent to let participants know if they are one of the first 60 people. People with questions may email GymnasticsClinic@UtahStateAggies.com.

The Aggies open the season with two meets on the road, starting Friday at No. 5 Utah and Jan. 21 in a tri-meet at Texas Woman’s University with No. 4 Oklahoma. The team will return home to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Friday, Jan. 27 where it will host a tri-meet with Southern Utah and No. 14 Boise State.

For USU gymnastics ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, by phone at 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com.

Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program on Twitter (@USUGymnastics).

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University.