Three Utah State gymnasts were selected to compete in the NCAA North Central Regional Championships, announced Monday by the NCAA. Competition will be held Saturday, April 6, in Columbus, Ohio.
Junior Paige Jones and sophomore Sarah Landes will be competing in the all-around, while freshman Stefanie Daley will compete on beam.
The Regional Championships are held at six different sites around the country. The USU gymnasts, along with six teams and individual gymnasts from Air Force, will be hosted by Ohio State University, and action will get under way at 5 p.m. MT at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
The three Aggie gymnasts will be joined by No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 LSU, No. 18 Arizona, No. 24 Central Michigan, North Carolina State and host No. 20 Ohio State. Air Force all-around competitors Linnaea Hance, Katie Hawthorne and Jennifer Larsen will also compete, while their teammate Jessica Wallender will join Daley as the other event specialist. USU freshman Michelle Yasukochi is the alternate for vault and bars.
"We're excited to travel to regionals again," head coach Jeff Richards said. "For Stefanie to not compete for a couple years and then do this well is exciting. Paige and Sarah have both had outstanding years, so it's great for them to get to participate as well."
Six teams, five all-around competitors — who are not on a qualifying team — and one individual event specialist per event were named to each of the six predetermined host sites.
Utah State ended team competition Saturday at the Western Athletic Conference Championships in Cedar City. The team had its best outing of the year, notching an overall score of 195.100, finishing fourth. USU is ranked No. 54 in this week's rankings and only the top 36 teams advance to the NCAA Regionals. This is the sixth year in a row and seventh in the last eight that USU did not qualify as a team, but the Aggies have sent at least three individuals in each of the last six years.
This will be the third trip to regionals for Jones and the second for Landes. As a freshman, this will be Daley's first regionals competition.
Jones, a native of Smithville, Mo., has an all-around Regional Qualifying Score of 38.845. She is averaging 38.614, earning her season-best of 39.100 against both Southern Utah on Feb. 1 and Boise State on March 15. She earned all-WAC first-team honors for her bars performance Saturday, where she notched a career-best 9.900. She won the vault title at Sacramento State on March 1 with a 9.825 and tied for the win three other times. She also tied for the floor title against BYU with a 9.850. Jones competed in last season's NCAA Regionals at the University of Utah. She finished 20th in the all-around, posting an 8.700 on bars (42nd), an 8.050 on beam (42nd), a 9.200 on vault (41st) and a 9.450 floor (38th).
Landes, from Edmond, Okla., has an all-around RQS of 39.155, with a season-average of 38.989. She notched her season-high of 39.225 on March 15 in a home dual against Boise State, one of her eight scores of 39.000 or better this season. Landes earned second-team all-WAC honors by placing fourth in the all-around at the WAC Championships with a 39.175. Landes has four all-around wins this season, as well as one vault title. Landes finished 12th in the all-around at last year's NCAA Regional meet with a score of 38.325. She posted 9.775's on floor (T22nd) and vault (T19th), along with 9.700 on bars (T16th) and 9.075 on beam (T40th).
Daley, from Springfield, Ore., has been a beam specialist for the Aggies this season with an RQS of 9.785. She is averaging a 9.320 and earned her career-best 9.875 in a home dual meet against Air Force on Feb. 8. She claimed the beam title twice this season, against Air Force and then in a tri-meet at San Jose State on Feb. 15. She finished tied for seventh on the apparatus at last weekend's WAC Championships with a 9.800.
Jones will rotate with LSU, Landes with UCLA and Daley with North Carolina State.
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 Los Angeles on April 20-22 hosted by UCLA at Pauley Pavillion.
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.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.