Utah State’s gymnastics team opened the home portion of its schedule in emphatic fashion Friday night, recording a season-high score of 195.450 to defeat both San José State and Sacramento State in a tri-meet in front of 1,889 fans at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
“It was a big improvement from last weekend where we wanted to open the season with a 195. We did it this weekend, though,” said USU first-year head coach Amy Smith. “They really took the parts they needed to work on and put it in play tonight and we got it done. It was exciting.”
The Spartans finished second with a 194.275, while the Hornets took third with a 193.275. For the Aggies (2-1, 0-0 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference), they improved vastly on their team score after posting a 192.975 at Bowling Green last weekend, a difference of 2.475 points.
“We kept the energy up and kept it going and stayed on track throughout the entire meet,” said freshman Faith Leary.
With the victory, Utah State improved to 34-15 all-time in home openers, a record that takes several multi-team meets into account. The Aggies have now won five-consecutive home-opening meets and are 7-0 during that stretch.
Furthermore, the 195.450 turned in by Utah State is the second-highest home-opening score in school history and the highest since the program record of 196.000 was set during the 2004 campaign.
Four different Aggie gymnasts tied for event titles. Senior Keri Peel and junior Madison Ward tied for first on bars with a pair of 9.825s, while freshmen Leary and Autumn DeHarde each notched a 9.850 to tie for first on floor.
Utah State recorded a total of 11 top-five finishes on the night. On vault, Meyer tied for second with a career-best 9.800, while Ward tied for fourth in the event with a 9.775. In the anchor spot on bars, freshman Logan Varnadore took fourth with a career-high 9.800. Junior Emily Briones and freshman Taylor Dittmar tied for third on beam with 9.825s, while freshman Annie Beck tied for fifth on the event with a 9.800. Beck and Dittmar recorded career-high scores on beam. And on floor, freshman Mikaela Meyer tied for fourth with a career-high 9.825.
“Our underclassmen are phenomenal and we have wise upperclassmen,” junior Emily Briones said with a laugh. “We are just going to keep the ball rolling and hit one meet after another.”
When asked who stood out for the Aggies against the Spartans (3-3, 0-0 MPSF) and Hornets (0-7, 0-0 MPSF), Smith had a difficult time singling out any of her gymnasts.
“Collectively, it was so good,” Smith said. “It was great to see Faith hit on her floor routine, which is relatively new, and to get Elle (Golison) back was awesome. It was great to get her back on floor, and we still need to get her back on vault and beam, too. We’ve got more to come.”
The Aggies began the evening on vault, where Meyer and Ward led the team to a score of 48.775 on the apparatus.
With Peel, Ward and Varnadore leading the way on bars, Utah State tallied a 48.875 as a team.
Moving to beam in the third rotation, the Aggies overcame a fall in the leadoff spot and saw the next five gymnasts all hit. As a result, Utah State scored a 48.775.
Closing out the meet on floor, all six gymnasts recorded a 9.700 or better, helping Utah State record a 49.025.
“Floor is always the best to do in front of a crowd, so it was fun,” Leary said.
Utah State heads back out on the road to take on former Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference rival Denver on Saturday, Jan. 27, at Hamilton Gymnasium in Denver, Colorado.