For the fourth-consecutive season, Utah State’s gymnastics program will compete in the NCAA Regional Championships. The Aggies will travel to the Pacific Northwest to compete in the Seattle Regional on Saturday, April 1, the NCAA announced Monday afternoon.
“We started off at regionals (Arkansas in 2014) my freshman year,” senior Bailey McIntire said. “It was a rough experience for us, but every year we’ve gotten better and better. This year, we’ve been comfortable the whole year, so we’re just going into it like another meet.”
Utah State qualified as the No. 24 in the country with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 195.915 and will compete at Alaska Airlines Arena at 5 p.m. MT.
“We’re really excited to go back to regionals again,” senior Katie Brown said. “Staying out west and going to Seattle is really awesome. We’re excited that some of our fans are going to get to drive up or fly up, and be there to support us.”
Six teams, four all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and two individual event specialists per event (who have a minimum RQS of 9.400) were named to each of the six predetermined host sites (universities) – Fayetteville (Arkansas), Gainesville (Florida), Champaign (Illinois), Lincoln (Nebraska), Seattle and Morgantown (West Virginia).
Joining the Aggies at the Seattle Regional will be No. 1 Oklahoma (18-0), which earned the nation’s top overall seed for the third-straight year, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 13 Washington, Stanford and BYU.
“It feels really awesome,” said fourth-year USU head coach Nadalie Walsh. “It feels like all the hard work has definitely paid off and Utah State has arrived at the level of a platform where we’re expected to make it, and I expect them to do well. We’re not going into this year’s regionals trying to get our bearings and just enjoy the moment. We want to enjoy the moment, but we also want to be absolutely ready and very fierce competitors, and hopefully be one of the more dangerous teams that shows up.”
For the third-straight season, all four teams from the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference qualified for Regionals. No. 11 Boise State earned the second seed at the Lincoln Regional, while No. 18 Southern Utah is the third seed at the Morgantown Regional.
The MRGC is one of only three leagues in the nation that qualified every member institution, joining the Big 12 and the SEC.
The Aggies and Cougars will be squaring off for the fourth time this season in Seattle. USU has defeated BYU the previous three meetings, including at last weekend’s MRGC Championships. Utah State placed second with a 196.100 and BYU took fourth with a 194.675.
“We’re excited to go up against BYU again,” Brown said. “We’ve gone against them three times this year, so what’s one more?”
BYU is the only team in the Seattle Regional that Utah State has faced this season.
“This year at regionals, we’re just hoping to make a mark on the NCAA and letting them know we’re a pretty legitimate program now and we can get back to where we can go to nationals soon,” senior Keri Peel said. “I’m really excited about the group that we’re in, just because we’re ranked closely together, minus Oklahoma. I’m excited to see BYU again because it provides a certain level of comfort just seeing a Utah school there with you, too.”
Last season, the Aggies finished fifth in the Salt Lake City Regional with a 195.025. During the 2017 campaign, Utah State earned a season-high 196.300 against then-No. 7 Boise State on Feb. 17. The Aggies also posted top team scores of 49.075 on vault, 49.275 on bars, 49.150 on beam and 49.200 on floor.
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 St. Louis, Missouri, on April 14-15.
The top-two teams from the Champaign, Fayetteville and Seattle regionals will compete in one of the semifinals, while the top-two teams from the Gainesville, Lincoln and Morgantown regionals will compete in the other semifinal.