No. 18 BYU took third place with an overall score of 194.875 against No. 11 Denver (196.750), Ball State (195.450) and Bowling Green (194.525) on Saturday night at Hamilton Gymnasium.
"It was a great gymnastics environment tonight with a sellout crowd and four teams going on at the same time," head coach Guard Young said. "The girls will have to learn how to handle that type of environment. You either win or you learn, so we’re going to learn from this."
Despite the loss, the Cougars earned a season-high 48.975 on vault, while freshmen Avery Bennett and Haley Pitou set career highs on vault and bars, respectively.
BYU started the night with a strong performance on bars. Senior Brittni Hawes posted a season-high score of 9.925, followed by Pitou's career-high 9.875. Sophomore Shannon Hortman Evans earned a 9.850, giving the team a score of 49.150 for second place. Denver ended the first rotation with a 49.275 on vault, with Ball State earning a 48.550 on beam and Bowling Green receiving a 48.100 on floor.
"The bars team was spectacular," Young said. "They struggled in the warm-ups, and so seeing the girls put that aside was amazing. I am very proud of their performances."
In the second rotation, Natasha Trejo Marsh anchored the Cougars on beam with a 9.825. Abby Boden and Hannah Miller both performed well, earning a 9.750 and 9.700, respectively. However, three falls on the event brought the team's score down as BYU ended the rotation at 96.700. Denver continued to lead after the second rotation with a 98.025, with Ball State jumping to second (97.350) and Bowling Green coming in third (97.050).
Currently ranked eighth in the nation on floor, the Cougars started the third rotation strong. Briana Pearson opened the event with a 9.850, matching her season-high score. Evans and Kyleigh Greenlief both also posted a 9.850, matching another season-high score for Greenlief. Seniors Jill van Mierlo and Mackenzie Douglas both added scores of 9.825. BYU finished the rotation with a floor score of 49.200 and overall total at 145.900 for third. Denver maintained its lead at 147.400, followed by Ball State's 146.425. Bowling Green fell to fourth at 145.775.
The Cougars ended the meet on vault with a season-high score of 48.975. Bennett set a career high with the team's highest event score of the night, 9.875. Van Mierlo matched her career high on vault with a 9.825, setting a season-high score on the event as well. Angel Zhong earned a 9.800, bringing the Cougars' final score to 194.875. Denver ended the meet on top with 196.750. Ball State took second with a 195.450, and Bowling Green earned fourth with a total of 194.525.
BYU heads to Cedar City, Utah, next week to take on Southern Utah University. The meet is scheduled to take place on Friday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. MST, in Centrum Arena. Live streaming will be available.