Utah State gymnastics records 193.950 in home loss to No. 6 BYU

Utah State University Gymnastics competes against Brigham Young University on Jan. 18, 2019, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah. With 194.575 points, BYU beat USU's 193.950. (Megan Nielsen)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State’s Madison Ward-Sessions had a meet to remember as the senior gymnast captured three total titles in helping the Aggies record a 193.950 in a dual meet against No. 6 BYU on Friday night. The Cougars finished with a 194.575 to place first in front of 2,261 fans at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

This was the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference opener for both schools. BYU improved to 1-1 overall with the win, while the Aggies fell to 1-3.

“We had a few stumbles, which is a nice way of putting it,” said second-year USU head coach Amy Smith. “We didn’t do we we’ve been doing in practice for some of the routines and it kind of showed up tonight. We’re going to go back in the gym on Sunday and get to work because we have a lot more than what we put out there tonight, overall. There were some bright spots obviously.”

Ward-Sessions being one of them.

The native of Rexburg, Idaho, captured her first career all-around title with a career-best 39.225. Ward-Sessions placed first on beam, an event she has struggled on mightily the last two years, with a personal-best 9.800, then closed her night with a dazzling 9.875 on floor to win that title.

“It was super exciting and really fun,” Ward-Sessions said of her night. “I was nervous, but I was able to channel that into my routines and then calm down a little bit. When we were on each event, we had to take one thing at a time and that’s what I’ve been trying to work on in practice, and not think about the next event coming up, but just one thing at a time.

“Beam has been a mental challenge for me over the past few years because I’ve trained beam, but when I go to compete, I get really nervous and I pretty much forget everything. Tonight, I was really focused on my cues.”

Three Aggies actually finished in the top three on beam as sophomores Taylor Dittmar and Autumn DeHarde placed second and third with a 9.775 and 9.750, respectively. BYU’s Natasha Marsh tied DeHarde for third place.

Ward-Sessions began her night by tying for third on vault with a 9.800. She then tied for second on bars with a 9.750.

“Madison Ward-Sessions has been training beam for the last two years and she has got frustrated with it where we’ve had these heart-to-heart talks and just keep chipping away at it,” Smith said. “That was super cool tonight to finally see her put that together and under a ton of pressure because the front half of the beam lineup didn’t really set it up for her. She was angry and she got the job done. For her to come out and win the all-around, on top of winning beam, which is great, I’m just so excited for her tonight in what she did. I keep saying she could be one of the best all-arounders in the country, and in our conference for sure.”

Utah State opened the dual meet on vault and scored a 48.675, highlighted by Ward-Sessions’ 9.800. Freshman Grace Rojas placed fifth with a career-best 9.775. The Aggies moved to bars in the second rotation and totaled a 48.425. Again, Ward-Sessions and Rojas led the way on the event by placing second and fourth with a 9.800 and 9.725, respectively. For Rojas, it was a career-best score.

With Ward-Sessions, Dittmar and DeHarde leading the way, Utah State tallied a 48.050 on beam. The Aggies closed the meet on floor and recorded a 48.800 on the event, highlighted by Ward-Sessions’ 9.875. DeHarde placed third with a 9.825.

BYU’s 194.575 was made up of a 48.950 on vault, a 48.625 on bars, a 48.100 on beam and a 48.900 on floor.

These same two teams will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 25, at 11 a.m., at the Marriott Center in Provo.


No. 6 BYU at Utah State – Logan, Utah – Dee Glen Smith Spectrum – Jan. 18, 2019

Team Results: 1. BYU – 194.575 (vault: 48.950, bars: 48.625, beam: 48.100, floor: 48.900); 2. Utah State – 193.950 (vault: 48.675, bars: 48.425, beam: 48.050, floor: 48.800).

Vault: 1. Shannon Evans – BYU, 9.875; 2. Abbey Miner – BYU, 9.825; 3. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.800; 5. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.775; T-6. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.750; 10. Elle Golison – USU, 9.650; 11. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.625.

Bars: 1. Natasha Marsh – BYU, 9.775; T-2. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.750; T-2. Shannon Evans – BYU, 9.750; T-4. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.725; T-6. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.700; T-9. Annie Beck – USU, 9.625; T-9. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.625.

Beam: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.800; 2. Taylor Dittmar – USU, 9.775; 3. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.750; 7. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.625; 10. Annie Beck – USU, 9.100; 11. Emily Briones – USU, 9.000.

Floor: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.875; 2. Shannon Evans – BYU, 9.850; 3. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.825; T-6. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.750; T-10. Faith Leary – USU, 9.700; T-10. Elle Golison – USU, 9.675.

All-Around: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 39.225 (vault: 9.800, bars: 9.750, beam: 9.800, floor: 9.875); 2. Shannon Evans – BYU, 38.125 (vault: 9.875, bars: 9.750, beam: 9.650, floor: 9.850); 3. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 38.825 (vault: 9.750, bars: 9.750, beam: 9.625, floor: 9.750).



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