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Wade Denniston, USU Athletic Media Relations
Utah State sophomore Elle Golison flips on the balance beam.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Amy Smith, Utah State’s gymnastics team held its first official practice of the 2017-18 campaign on Monday at the team’s practice facility located inside the HPER building.

“It went great and I was very excited,” Smith said. “It was great to get everybody in here and doing every event and shaking the dust off, and getting rolling.”

What did Smith like best about the first practice of the season?

“Finally getting everybody in the gym, because with open gym you don’t quite see the functionality of the gym and how it works,” Smith said. “To get everybody going on every event today was really exciting. It was a good start.”

The main focus for the team on Monday was the floor exercise, as well as a few vault drills.

“The first day of practice went great,” said sophomore Elle Golison. “It is so nice to finally have some structure in the gym again and having assignments is super nice. I feel great about this team and the amount of drive and passion in the gym is awesome.”

Smith inherited a program that returns nine gymnasts off last year’s team that placed second in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships and advanced to the NCAA Regional Championships for the fourth-consecutive year.

Utah State’s 196.100 at the MRGC Championships was the best score the Aggies had ever produced in a conference championship meet, the fifth-best home score in school history and the ninth-best overall.

Nine newcomers join the returnees, giving the Aggies a competitive roster of 18 gymnasts.

Keri Peel is the lone senior on the squad, while Emily Briones and Madison Ward make up the junior class.

“It was nice because the coaches actually got to give us assignments, so we weren’t just wandering around wondering what to do, so it was nice to have some structure,” Ward said. “Everyone did really well. I was super impressed with both the freshmen and the returners because the conditioning was hard and the assignments were hard, but I heard hardly any complaining compared to previous years.”

The sophomores consist of Golison, MaKayla Bullitt, Jazmyn Estrella, Brittany Jeppesen, Kiera Miller, Logan Nugent and McKinley Pavicic, a transfer from Boise State.

“The incoming freshmen are absolutely amazing and push us all to our best abilities,” Golison said. “They already fit in great with the team and are super fun to have in the gym. I’m so excited to see where this team can take us this year.”