By Tara Alvey
Photo: Sophomore Paige Jones on Bars
On Monday, March 5, the Utah State University Gymnastics Team faced off against in-state rival BYU for their last home meet of the regular season. USU finished off the night with a running score of 193.675 and BYU finished at 195.525.
Over the previous seven days, Utah State had had three meets. That’s a demanding schedule for any athletic team, but especially for a sport as physically grueling as gymnastics.
After the meet against BYU, Head Coach Jeff Richards acknowledged that such a quick turnaround time between meets might be starting to effect the girls on the team. “It’s a young team, and I think that could really be starting to show a bit,” he said.
However, despite the team’s overall loss, there were some winning individual performances.
Paige Jones, a sophomore, walked away with the overall high score at the meet, notching a career high of 39.200. Jones was also the winner of two individual events, scoring a 9.850 on vault and bars.
“I’ve been working really hard in the gym, trying to get some consistency going, and tonight I think that really paid off,” Jones said. “As a whole, I think it just comes down to consistency, working hard at practice, and all the little details.”
“We had a few hiccups tonight,” Jones said of the team performance, “but overall I think we handled it pretty well. There were some mistakes that we can fix and we just really need to make our vaults count.”
March 5 was also Senior Night for USU’s Gymnastics Team as it honored its two graduating athletes, Rebecca Holliday and Haley Hogan.
Holliday finished in fourth place overall with an overall individual score of 37.900.
“Rebecca did great tonight, but she did look a little flat in some events,” Jones said. “It wasn’t our wow factor that we usually see from her.”
However, even though Holliday didn’t have the best night of her career, she was still pleased with her performance, especially on bars.
“Bars is my favorite event,” Holliday said. “It just feels so effortless and easy to me, I really love it.” Holliday scored a 9.750 on bars at the March 5 meet.
“I’ve really loved college gymnastics,” Holliday said.” Luckily this won’t be my last time performing in the Spectrum because we still do have the WAC meet that we’re hosting, but it definitely feels a little weird to be graduating.”
“After graduation I’m not really sure what I’m going to do yet, but I’d like to coach gymnastics and still be involved with it in some way,” Holliday said. “Ever since high school I‘ve coached a little bit on the side, and I love it too much to just quit.”
Hogan, the other graduating senior, was also a bit sad about facing the end of her college gymnastics career. “It’s actually pretty amazing that I’m not crying right now,” she said after the meet. “But honestly it’s been a really long road and I need some time away from the gym right now. I don’t know what my plans are and if I’ll ever come back to it, but right now I just need to take a break from it.”
USU freshman Sarah Landes took second overall in the meet with a score of 39.075. Landes has been named USU student athlete of the week three times this season.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I started off in college this year, and I was a little bit nervous,” Landes said. “But once you’re out on the floor, you just kind of do what you do. I don’t really have to think about it.”
“My favorite event is the beam,” Landes said. “I like it because not a lot of other people do. I like doing something that’s different and being good at it. I just feel comfortable up on the beam.” Landes notched a 9.800 on beam at the March 5 meet, the highest score on beam for USU that night.
“We’re just going to keep working hard and building the team,” Jones said. “We do a lot of great things, but there’s always room for improvement.”
The Utah State Women’s Gymnastics Team is ranked No. 44 in the Troester/Gyminto Women’s Gymnastics National Rankings (as of March 5).
Utah State will be hosting the 2012 WAC Championships on Saturday, March 24. The date marks the first time since 2006, when the Aggies joined the conference, that they will be hosting the event.