The BYU gymnastics team came out to prepare for Friday night’s Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships at the Marriott Center and Cougar head coach Guard Young said the warm-up looked great.
But when the competition started, things quickly went downhill.
BYU had a number of uncharacteristic mistakes on its first rotation on the floor routine, including stepping out of bounds on a couple of occasions.
The result was a team score of 48.625, easily the worst score the Cougars have had on that apparatus in the entire season.
While BYU was able to come back stronger later in the meet, the early struggles dropped the Cougars to a team score of 195.750 and a third-place finish behind conference-champ Boise State (196.950) and Southern Utah (195.900).
“I’m really proud of this group,” Young said. “We have had a heck of a season. They are just tired. I can see it in them. We came out today, had a great warm-up on floor and that was it. We went over to vault and we couldn’t even run down the vault runway. I know how to fix it. It’s just rest. We have a weekend to recover and then we are off to regionals.”
BYU junior captain Shannon Evans — who was named the Gymnast of the Year in the conference — said she felt like the team didn’t let the tough showing at the outset completely ruin the evening.
“There was an obvious rough start on floor,” Evans said. “You could also say there was a rough start on vault, but I was pleased with the way my team handled that. They came back on bars and beam with full force, with no holding back. I was really proud of them.”
Young took personal responsibility for some of the fatigue that resulted in miscues, saying he could’ve given his team a better chance to be successful.
“I pushed them too hard, too long,” Young said. “That’s on me as a head coach. But we’ll be just fine. We had to start the season so strong to make a statement to the rest of the country that we are a good team and we did that. I love the fight these girls showed.”
Evans admitted that the long season does takes a toll on a gymnast but explained that the Cougars have their sights set on being their best when the NCAA tournament gets underway.
“You are made to to climb and then taper,” Evans said. “Conference is a big meet but it’s not our biggest meet. We are looking to regionals and nationals. We are in a little of the tapering phase, getting to the point where we are supposed to peak, but tonight was not our night for that. I’m very excited for what the future holds because I believe that peak will come in a couple of meets.”
She said the mentality of the BYU gymnasts is to not dwell on the past but instead to focus on what is up next.
“We couldn’t dwell on floor or vault,” Evans said. “We couldn’t focus on what had gone wrong but instead focused on what we could do right.”
She said the team is excited to get back in the gym, noting that the last week didn’t have the same energy as at other times.
“It has felt a little bit lethargic, like we were moving through the motions,” Evans said. “We were trying to get the work done but we were just feeling like we couldn’t get our feet under us. I think that has put a little fire under us to make us go harder for every tenth point.”
BYU may not have wrapped up conference with a stellar performance but the Cougars believe no one should count them out.
“The focus is on the first round of the NCAA championships,” Young said. “We’ll know on Monday where we will go. I like where we are at. I like our lineups. We’re healthy and I anticipate us getting our legs underneath us and really making a run at this thing.”