Three Utah State gymnasts were selected to compete in the NCAA North Central Regional Championships, which will be held on Saturday, April 7, in Salt Lake City, it was announced Monday by the NCAA.
Senior Rebecca Holliday, sophomore Paige Jones and freshman Sarah Landes will be competing in the all-around.
The North Central Regional Championships are being hosted by the University of Utah, and action will get under way at 6 p.m. at Utah’s Huntsman Center. USU opened the 2012 season in a dual against Utah at the Huntsman Center on Jan. 13.
“We’re very excited to have three individuals qualify for regionals,” USU head coach Jeff Richards said. “It’s great that we’re competing at Utah. It’s close to home, and we’re familiar with the arena and the crowd. I know the girls will be excited to compete in that great environment, but know what to expect and what to do to focus on their gymnastics.”
Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event (who has a minimum regional qualifying score of 9.4) were named to each of the six predetermined host sites.
Utah State ended team competition on Saturday, hosting the Western Athletic Conference Championships, where the Aggies placed fifth. USU is ranked No. 46 in this week’s rankings, and only the top 36 teams advance to the NCAA Regionals. This is the fifth year in a row and sixth in the last seven that USU did not qualify for regionals as a team, but the Aggies have sent at least three individuals in each of the last five years.
This will be Jones’ second regional appearance, while it will be the first for Holliday and Landes, after Holliday was named an alternate last year.
Jones, a native of Smithville, Mo., competed on floor and vault at last year’s North Central Regionals at Denver, where she was 40th on the vault with a 9.550 and 39th on the floor with a 9.425. This season, Jones has a 38.865 regional qualifying score in the all-around, averaging 38.608 on the year. She posted her career-best 39.200 in a home dual against BYU on March 5, for one of her two scores topping the 39.000 mark.
On Saturday at the WAC Championships, Jones was eighth in the all-around with a 38.650. Jones has two all-around wins this season, coming in back-to-back meets, winning it in the dual vs. BYU on March 5 with her career-high 39.200 while also nabbing first in a dual at Southern Utah on March 9 with a 38.975.
Landes, an Edmond, Okla., native, has a 38.935 all-around RQS, with a season-average of 38.713. She notched her career-high of 39.350 on Feb. 10 in a home dual vs. San Jose State, one of her five scores of 39.000 or better this season. Landes earned second-team all-WAC honors by placing sixth in the all-around at the WAC Championships with a 39.125, also earning first-team all-WAC accolades by tying for second on floor with a career-best 9.875.
Landes has two all-around wins this season, collecting the crown in a tri-meet with Southern Utah and Boise State on Feb. 27 with a 39.255 and taking top honors in a dual with Sacramento State on Feb. 17.
Holliday, a native of Orange, Calif., has an all-around RQS of 38.400, averaging 38.404 this season. She posted her career-best of 38.925 this season in a tri-meet at BYU with Southern Utah on Feb. 25 and added a 38.900 to place seventh Saturday in the WAC Championships for her two marks of 38.900 or better. This season, Holliday set new career-highs in all four events plus the all-around.
The three Aggie gymnasts will be joined at the North Central Regional Championships by fellow WAC foe San Jose State, along with Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa State, Arizona State and host Utah. USU’s three all-arounders will be joined by BYU’s Raquel Willman and Linnaea Hance of Air Force. Natalie Pickard of BYU is the vault individual qualifier, while BYU teammate Natalie Pickard is the bars qualifier, and fellow Cougar Krysten Koval is the individual qualifier on floor. Southern Utah’s Alyssa Click is the individual qualifier on beam.
WAC champion Denver will be competing in the Champaign, Ill., regional.
The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22, hosted by the Gwinnett Center and Georgia Tech.
In addition, the event winners at each regional site will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier.
Tickets for the NCAA North Central Regional Championships range from $4 to $16 and can be purchased through the University of Utah’s athletics ticket office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or by phone at 801-581-UTIX (8849).
Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics or on Facebook at Utah State Gymnastics. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.