Utah State gymnastics tabbed No. 41 in preseason poll

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State gymnastics will begin the 2020 season ranked No. 41 in the country as voted on by the coaches of the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA).

Oklahoma, which claimed its fourth national title at the 2019 NCAA Championships, earned the top spot in the 2020 preseason poll. The Sooners garnered 1,813 points and 36 first-place votes. LSU was second with 1,755 points and 11 first-place votes, while Florida (1,680 points; two first-place votes), UCLA (1,671 points; one first-place vote) and Utah (1,559 points) rounded out the top-36 teams in the nation.

The Aggies were the fifth team listed in the “also receiving votes,” garnering 45 points. Four of Utah State’s opponents are ranked in the preseason top 25, including UCLA, Utah, No. 18 Boise State and No. 23 BYU.

The Aggies officially open the 2020 campaign at the inaugural Rio Tinto Best of Utah Gymnastics Meet on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m., at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference-foes BYU and Southern Utah will also be on hand at the meet, as will Utah.

The Rio Tinto Best of Utah Gymnastics Meet marks the second time in history that Utah, BYU, SUU and USU will participate at the same event. The only other gathering was the Smith’s Challenge Cup in 1993, where Utah won the quad meet, Utah State finished second, BYU placed third and Southern Utah captured fourth.

The Aggies will actually be on the road the entire month of January. They will travel to Provo for a tri meet against BYU and UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 18, followed by a dual meet at Air Force on Saturday, Jan. 25. Utah State will then compete at SUU in an MRGC dual meet on Friday, Jan. 31.

Utah State welcomes Boise State to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for its home opener on Friday, Feb. 7.

Head coach Amy Smith is in her third season at the helm of the Aggies. Under her tutelage in 2019, Madison Ward-Sessions was named a WCGA Second-Team Regular Season All-American on floor, becoming the first gymnast in Utah State history to ever garner All-American accolades during the regular season. Furthermore, she was the first Aggie to be named an All-American since Jodi Mabb in 1981.

Ward-Sessions capped her stellar Utah State career at the NCAA Regional Championships in Corvallis, Ore., where she placed third on floor with a 9.925 and 13th in the all-around with a 38.425. Her 9.925 on floor ranks first all-time in school history for a regional meet and her third-place finish is the best-ever by an Aggie on the event at the regional championships.

Two other Aggies competed at regionals last season as MaKayla Bullitt placed 49th on bars with a 9.650, while Autumn DeHarde tied for eighth on floor (9.875) and tied for 19th on beam (9.850). DeHarde is entering her junior season at Utah State.

DeHarde is one of 10 gymnasts back from last year’s team.

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