SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday was anything but the day Southern Utah gymnastics coach Scott Bauman imagined it would be. Excited to bring his 20th-ranked squad back to the Huntsman Center atmosphere for the first time since 2010, Bauman instead watched his team fall apart as they finished fourth in the quad meet with a 191.05. The struggles started early with three Thunderbirds falling off the beam during the first rotation.
"I was so excited to show our gymnasts what it's like in the Huntsman Center, but then this happened," Bauman said. "Tonight was really just a tough night."
In fairness to the coach, it's been a rough few days, having watched his two senior captains get hurt in practice Thursday. Alyssa Click, the Thunderbirds' best gymnast and 2012 NCAA Regional qualifier, is lost for the season with a knee injury, while Michaela Chernoch suffered a bad ankle sprain. Chernoch tried to make a go of it Saturday, but fell on both the beam and bars despite strong warm-ups on both events. Bauman said his coaching staff would re-evaluate how bad Chernoch's injury is, but credited her for trying to gut it out.
"These are our two senior captains, so this is a huge loss," Bauman said. "These are gymnasts who can hit high scores in their routines, so they're tough to replace."
The challenge for Bauman is that he has a young team that includes 11 underclassmen who will have to regroup quickly with the Thunderbirds back on the road against Utah State on January 25.
"We've got a tough schedule ahead, so we're going to need to keep moving forward," Bauman said. "It's just tough to take because a few days ago we're a completely different team that did well at UCLA on the road."
Bauman did find some bright spots Saturday, with good routines by freshman Natalie Trejo and sophomore Rochelle Bernier. He also noted that the one senior, Caitlin Kennedy, who had experienced the Huntsman Center atmosphere before had four solid routines.
"I think it was just really hard for the team that these injuries happened so close to the meet," Click said. "It's hard to bounce back that soon and gymnasts had to be thrown into the lineup late."