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BYU gymnastics comes up short at NCAA Regionals

By Jared Lloyd daily Herald - | Apr 2, 2021
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BYU gymnasts prepare to compete during the Best of Utah Meet at the Maverick Center in West Valley City on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

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BYU head coach Guard Young encourages his team during the Best of Utah Meet at the Maverick Center in West Valley City on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

In the second round of the Morgantown NCAA Regionals, No. 12 BYU performed for the final time this season. The Cougars scored a 196.350 against No. 5 California (197.725), No. 27 Ohio State (196.525) and No. 28 Towson (195.025).

It was a fight up until the final routine as BYU trailed the Buckeyes by a mere .075 for a majority of the competition. However, Ohio State pulled off the upset by celebrating its highest score of the season, crushing its former record of 196.400.

“It’s bittersweet,” Cougar head coach Guard Young said. “We sure wish that we were advancing. We had an expectation that we would. I was really proud of our girls and the fight they showed. Honestly, hats off goes to Ohio State who came in like they had nothing to lose. They went over and ended on beam and put that event down. Looking back, they deserved it. They competed with nothing to lose. Meredith, the head coach there, is a good friend of mine and I’m really happy for her and for their team.”

Following Young’s season motto to start each meet like lightning, the Cougars equaled their season-high score on bars to open the competition. For the third time this year, BYU notched an impressive 49.375. A noteworthy performance included a 9.900 routine by sophomore Anyssa Alvarado. Taking the cake, senior Abby Boden-Stainton achieved a career-high score of 9.950 on the apparatus, beating her former 9.925. This score earned her second place overall. Heading into the second rotation, California held a small .025 lead over BYU, after earning a 49.400 on beam.

On beam, the pressure came on strong after a fall early in the lineup. Fighting to avoid another fall, freshman Sophia McClelland and senior Abbey Miner-Alder held the highest scores for BYU, a 9.775. However, the team’s second-lowest beam score of the season, a 48.725, would allow Ohio State to pull ahead. At the halfway point, BYU sat in third, trailing Ohio State, 98.100-98.175.

“It’s really, really hard on balance beam when you have a fall on the first routine,” Young said. “To see the girls rally and try to salvage the beam score was great to see.”

In the third rotation, the Cougars headed to floor where they rank No. 1 within the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference. Alder, the MRGC Floor Specialists of the Year, posted a 9.900 to earn the second-best floor score of the session. Alder and junior Brittney Vitkauskas, who earned a 9.850, lead the Cougars on floor. Even with a solid tally of 49.175, BYU couldn’t get ahead, still trailing Ohio State by .075.

In the final rotation, the Cougars and Buckeyes battled for second to advance to the finals. On vault, Alder stuck a 9.850 routine, achieving the lineup’s highest score. Seniors Avery Bennett and Angel Zhong followed with scores of 9.825. After the final routine, BYU racked up a 49.075 tally on vault compared to Ohio State’s 49.175 on beam.

“In the locker room, I told our players not to dwell on this,” Young said. “I told them to commend the great team that competed their hearts out. Instead, let’s get motivated and work hard for next year. If they need to take a break, let’s take the break now and then come back in a few weeks. I’m hoping this experience can be used as a tool to motivate them to get stronger.”

California and Ohio State advanced to the final round of the Morgantown NCAA Regionals on Saturday, April 3.

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