As BYU senior gymnast Shannon Evans stood at the end of the vault runway at the Rio Tinto Best of Utah meet Saturday night at the Maverik Center in West Valley City waiting for the signal to start her run, there were a lot of things that could’ve been going through her head.
She could’ve been thinking about how tough it was to have gotten injured in November and how hard it had been to come back in just a month-and-a-half.
She could’ve been thinking about how unfair it was that she had to deal with not feeling well on top of recovering from injury.
She could’ve been thinking about how frustrating it had been just a few minutes earlier to compete on the balance beam and have things go so poorly.
But what was the Cougar senior really thinking?
“It’s always for the team,” Evans said after the meet. “I knew that they needed me on vault. Beam was hard but you can’t dwell on that. It’s about what the team needs. On vault, I went and did my job just like they needed me to.”
Evans raced down the runway and exploded over the vault, twisting, flipping and landing to earn a solid 9.850 score from the judges.
“It was confidence-building for sure,” Evans said. “I needed that. I think my Heavenly Father knew I needed that. It was fun and brought so much energy.”
Her performance elicited a big reaction from BYU head coach Guard Young.
“We tried to get Shannon out there maybe a little bit early but I’m proud of her effort,” Young said. “What a comeback for her on vault. That shows you the competitor she is to be able to put that behind her and finish her meet off just huge for the team on vault.”
In many ways, Evans’ performance reflected what happened to the entire Cougar team. There were some tough times followed but resilient performances.
“Our team’s fight tonight was unbelievable,” Evans said. “There are always going to be ups and downs. It seemed like there were a fair share of downs tonight, but I didn’t see anyone get down. We all looked at each other and regrouped after each event and said, ‘It’s not over until it’s over. Let’s finish this.’ We went from being dead last to getting second and finishing in the 195s. It could’ve gone really badly the other way, so I’m really proud of everybody pulling their weight and doing what they needed to do to finish the meet.”
BYU ended up with a team score of 195.575, which was better than Utah State or Southern Utah but wasn’t close to the impressive 197.000 score posted by the University of Utah to win the event.
“Congratulations to the University of Utah,” Young said. “They put on a great event. They were the main force behind the Best of Utah. What a great team and an organization. Hats off to them.”
Cougar junior Abbey Miner proved again to be a steady presence for BYU, tallying scores or 9.700 or better in all four events as she won the individual all-around title for the meet.
Other local gymnasts also had nice performances:
- Utah’s Kim Tessen (who went to Mountain View) scored a 9.950 on bars, a 9.900 on floor and a 9.850 on vault.
- Southern Utah’s Madison McBride (who went to Mountain View) scored 9.850 on both vault and floor, while teammate Stephanie Tervort (who went to ALA) tallied a 9.875 on bars, 9.850 on vault and an 8.675 on floor.
- Utah State’s Annie Beck (who went to Spanish Fork) scored a 9.650 on bars.
Young said he was pleased that the Cougar team rallied but wants to see them start stronger.
“We were a little tentative to start,” Young said. “We had great uneven bar routines to start but then we were tentative on the dismounts. As a coach, you want an attack mindset, a go-big mindset. When you land a bar dismount and hop forward, that’s not a go-big mindset. We’ve got to be better about that attack.”
Evans looks forward to being one of the leaders that can set that type of tone but she has to get back to full strength. She said it’s been a tough road for her since getting hurt.
“It’s difficult,” Evans said. “It’s a lot mentally and physically, so it’s really draining on your body — on top of being sick, coming back from an injury and being out of practice. In the end, I know it’s going to be good for me. You come back stronger than you were before. You’ve got to fight through the hard things and make the best of it.”
Her goal is to not get distracted as she works her way back to the top of her game.
“The key is staying in the moment, where you are right then and there,” Evans said. “It’s easy to look ahead and be sad or look in the past and be a little bit sad about where you are at. But you have to stay in the moment and do you, work with you had. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
It’s still very early in the season (just two meets in) and Young is looking forward to seeing his team continue to improve.
“I told them in the locker room that on Monday we seemed to start slow and finished big and then today we again started off slow and finished big in different events,” Young said. “So let’s start off big and then finish big together. Great teams hit every single week and sustain that, so that’s something we want to do better as a program.”