So, what would your team do if it found out just before a game that one of its best players would be sidelined?
The BYU women’s gymnastics team found that out Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse, when Eliane Kulczyk suffered a mild concussion during warmups for the vault and was pulled from the meet against Southern Utah.
“It was a crazy thing, but gymnastics injuries do tend to be kind of crazy,” said BYU coach Brad Cattermole after his Cougars turned in their second-highest score of the year, a 195.375, but fell to the Thunderbirds, who scored a 195.500. “She slipped on the vault board during warmups and fell. But she just got up and laughed about it, and went over and warmed up great on bars. But when she started warming up on floor, she had a little headache and felt a little wobbly, so we gave her some tests and she had a mild concussion. So, we pulled her out.”
And that changed the feel of the meet right off the bat.
“You know, these girls were not here to see how high a score they could get, they were excited about going for the team’s highest score of the year,” Cattermole said. “So, of course, it was a little bit of a downer. But when that happens, you just go to the next person, and I told the girls hey, you’ve been training for it to be your time, and it’s your time. And I thought they did a good job. It’s hard to work hard every day and know you’re not going to compete, but these girls have done that and were ready to go when we needed them.”
The Cougars went with just five vaulters, and Jordan Hayden got her first chance to compete in a meet on floor after going exhibition in that event the past two weeks. Her exhibition at Arizona State last week went 9.8, and she pulled through on Friday with a 9.675 for the Cougars, as did Jordan Shult, competing for just the fifth time this year on floor. Mikaela Jones competed in vault for only the second time, and earned a 9.7.
The Cougars were not perfect, going a little cautious at times and having a few wobbles, but they went clean on all their events, which pleased Cattermole.
“We’ve had so many meets this year where we could have been up in the 196 range (which they’ve hit once), but we had a couple of falls on beam or on bars or something like that,” he said. “So to go clean, that’s good. The kids stepped up and did what they had to do.”
SUU had a 49.025 to 48.725 lead after the first round, as the Cougars didn’t vault as well as they have in the past (they’ve been 49 or better four times this year) and the Thunderbirds had two 9.825s and a 9.85 (Jamie Armijo) on bars. But when the events were reversed, SUU came in at 48.625 on vault and the Cougars earned a 48.875 on bars, with KayCee Gassaway earning a new career best and the top spot in the event with a 9.875.
Makenzie Johnson won the vault event with a 9.8, and was also the all-around winner with a 39.150. Raquel Willman Hatch was second at 38.925, and SUU freshman Memory Shettles was third at 38.525. Shettles was the beam champion after a great routine that netted 9.9, the highest score for any gymnast in the meet, but had a fall on her floor routine to drop out of the running for all-around champion.
The Cougars went clean on all six beam routines, although there were a few wobbles. Summer Raymond was BYU’s top beam worker with a 9.825, and Emily Vidmar had a 9.8.
On floor, SUU earned two 9.825s (Tyly Bozzuto and Natalie Trejo) and a 48.85 overall, while the Cougars earned a 48.850 on the beam, so the Thunderbirds had a narrow 146.5 to 146.45 lead heading into the final rotation.
SUU had one fall on beam, but that didn’t matter after Shettles and Stacie Webb (9,85) had gone, as the Thunderbirds earned a 49.0 on the beam. On floor, BYU got first place in the event on Johnson’s 9.875, and Megan Bain Tidwell tied for second at 9.825.
Cattermole said the Cougars should get Kulczyk back in a week or so, which will help, since they’ve lost several other gymnasts for the season.
“We have five meets left, and the girls are excited to work hard to improve and get better scores,” he said.
Southern Utah 195.5, BYU 194.375. Vault: 1. Makenzie Johnson, BYU, 9.8; 2. KayCee Gassaway, 9.775; 3. (tie) Jordan Schult, BYU, Memory Shettles, Jamie Arnijo, Stacie Webb, SUU, 9.750. Bars: 1. KayCee Gassaway, BYU, 9.875; 2. Jamie Armijo, SUU, 9.85; 3. Alyssa Click, SUU, 9.825. Beam: 1. Memory Shettles, SUU, 9.0; 2. Stacie Webb, SUU, 9.85; 3. (tie) Summer Raymond, BYU, and Ana Jaworski, SUU, 9.825. Floor: 1. Makenzie Johnson, BYU, 9.875; 2. (tie) Megan Bain Tidwell, BYU, and Natalie Trujo, Tyly Bozzuto, SUU, 9.825. All-around: 1. Makenzie Johnson, BYU, 39.15; 2. Raquel Willman Hatch, BYU, 38.925; 3. Memory Shettles, SUU, 38.525.