Utah State gymnastics beats Southern Utah, 195.275-195.200, for first MRGC victory of the season

CEDAR CITY, Utah – Utah State’s gymnastics team picked up its first Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference victory of the season on Monday night, 195.275-195.200 over Southern Utah at the America First Event Center.

“That was awesome,” said first-year USU head coach Amy Smith. “We have been talking about wanting to put a meet together, and it wasn’t perfect by any means, but from start to finish, they brought the energy, and we came away with a win.”

For the Aggies (5-3, 1-1 MRGC), it was their first road win over the Thunderbirds (2-4, 1-4 MRGC) since 2014, snapping a string of three consecutive losses.

“I honestly didn’t know we hadn’t won here since 2014, so hearing that after we got our win was awesome, and it was really exciting,” freshman Mikaela Meyer said.

Utah State had a gymnast place first on every event, including freshman Autumn DeHarde and junior Emily Briones tying for the top spot on beam with identical 9.875s. The Aggies closed the meet on beam and those two gymnasts were the final competitors, helping the visitors hold on for the nail-biting victory.

“I’ve got a scrappy beam team,” Smith said. “Last Friday at UC Davis, we didn’t need to use the scrappiness, but tonight we did. Emily and Autumn closed us out with great scores and ended up sealing the deal for us to get a win tonight, which was fantastic.”

Freshman Taylor Dittmar had a 9.775 to finish fifth on beam. As a team, the Aggies recorded a 48.700.

“I wasn’t too nervous because I know our beam team can hit,” Meyer said. “I knew if our final three up just stayed calm and did their routines like they do in practice then we would be fine. That’s what they did, and they got the job done.”

So did Madison Ward for the Aggies. The junior from Rexburg, Idaho, captured a pair of titles on the night, including winning floor with a career-high 9.925.

“I was just mad from this whole previous season because I haven’t been doing as well as I’ve been wanting to and as well as I’ve been training, so I was just like ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to freaking do it,’” said Ward, as she grinned from ear to ear. “It’s about freaking time.”

Prior to Monday night, Ward had earned seven 9.900s throughout her career.

“We broke out of that 9.9 box,” Smith said. “She’s been working really hard for that, so that was super cool to see her finally do what she’s capable of doing, and there’s more for her.”

Freshman Faith Leary had a 9.850 on floor to tie for fourth and help Utah State finish with a season-high 49.175 on the event. In their last five meets alone, the Aggies have gone 49.025 or above on floor.

“Floor was awesome,” Meyer said. “The energy was so high and it was a lot of fun watching all the routines. They were just hitting their routines like they do in practice, so it was good.”

Utah State began the night on bars and only had five gymnasts compete on the apparatus. However, those five were solid and all hit, helping the team record a 48.700. Ward tied for first on the event with a 9.825.

“The bars team did a fantastic job starting the meet off, and it’s never easy when you don’t have a full lineup,” Smith said. “Everybody did their job and they did a great job at it. They started us off really strong, and the meet just kept going from there.”

In the second rotation, the Aggies scored another 48.700, this time on vault. Meyer led the way with a 9.825 to tie for first on the event. Ward tied for fourth with a 9.800.

“I felt pretty good compared to the last meet when I had a little mess up on vault, so coming back strong felt really good,” Meyer said. “To go out there and hit my vault like I normally do felt really good.”

At the halfway point of the meet, Southern Utah led by five-tenths, 97.900-97.400. However, the Aggies’ strong floor routine gave them a 146.575-146.075 advantage heading into the fourth and final rotation.

Utah State will conclude its three-meets-in-seven-days road trip on Friday, Feb. 12, against No. 15 Boise State at 7 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho.

Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics, on Facebook at Utah State Gymnastics, and on Instagram at USUGymnastics. Fans can also follow the USU athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at UtahStateAthletics.

<strong>Utah State at Southern Utah – Cedar City, Utah – America First Event Center – Feb. 12, 2018</strong>

<strong>Team Results:</strong> 1. Utah State – 195.275 (vault: 48.700; bars: 48.700; beam: 48.700; floor: 49.175); 2. Southern Utah – 195.200 (vault: 49.000; bars: 48.900; beam: 48.175; floor: 49.125).

<strong>Vault:</strong> T1. Mikaela Meyer – USU, 9.825; T1. Molly Jozwiakowski – SUU, 9.825; T1. Megan McBride – SUU, 9.825; T4. Madison Ward – USU, 9.800; T4. Madison McBride – SUU, 9.800; T6. Autumn Jorgensen – SUU, 9.775; T6. Morgan Alfaro – SUU, 9.775; T8. Faith Leary – USU, 9.725; T8. McKenna Burnside – SUU, 9.725; 10. Elle Golison – USU, 9.700; 11. Autumn DeHarde – USU 9.650; 12. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.575.

<strong>Bars:</strong> T1. Madison Ward – USU, 9825; T1. Karen Gonzalez – SUU, 9.825; T3. Becky Rozsa – SUU, 9.800; T3. Madison Howlett – SUU, 9.800; T3. Kirsten Yee – SUU, 9.800; T6. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.750; T6. MaKayla Bullitt- USU, 9.750; 8. Brittany Jeppesen – USU, 9.725; 9. Autumn Jorgensen – SUU, 9.675; 10. Mikaela Meyer – USU, 9.650; 11. Madison McBride – SUU, 9.325.

<strong>Beam:</strong> T1. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.875; T1. Emily Briones – USU, 9.875; 3. Emily Packham – SUU, 9.825; 4. Autumn Jorgensen – SUU, 9.800; 5. Taylor Dittmar – USU, 9.775; 6. Karen Gonzalez – SUU, 9.725; 7. Kirsten Yee – SUU, 9.675; 8. Elle Golison – USU, 9.600; 9. Leighton Varnadore – 9.575; 10. Annie Beck – USU, 9.275; 11. Hannah Nipp – SUU, 9.150; 12. Alyssa Ladieu – SUU, 9.025.

<strong>Floor:</strong> 1. Madison Ward – USU. 9.925; 2. Autumn Jorgensen – SUU, 9.900; 3. Madison McBride – SUU, 9.875; 4. Faith Leary – USU, 9.850; T5. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.825; T5. Molly Jozwiakowski – SUU, 9.825; 7. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.800; T8. Elle Golison – USU, 9.775; T8. Karen Gonzalez – SUU, 9.775; 10. Mckenna Burnside – SUU, 9.750; T11. Emily Briones – USU, 9.725; T11. Megan McBride – SUU, 9.725.

<strong>All-Around:</strong> 1. Autumn Jorgensen – SUU, 39.150.

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