(Photo by Meagan Larsen/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – The BYU women’s gymnastics team looks to improve from last season’s sixth place finish at regionals with 17 returning gymnasts and four incoming freshmen.
“We’re excited to get started," BYU gymnastics head coach Brad Cattermole said. "This time of year you’ve worked, you’ve done a ton of routines and you’re ready to play show-and-tell. I thought we might’ve pushed the start a little too hard, too early last year and I think we paid for it as the season went on. I’m looking to improve consistently as the season goes. I want to get off on a good foot and build on it. We’d like to finish off the season as best as we can.”
Entering his 27th year as the head coach of BYU gymnastics, Brad Cattermole and his team hopes to compete for a conference title and make it to the NCAA championships.
With the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships being officially recognized by the NCAA as a conference, the Cougars will compete against Utah State, Boise State, Southern Utah and Denver for a conference championship.
“We all treated it like a conference last year," Cattermole said. "We still have to put our best foot forward and see what we can do. I think we’re going to continue to get stronger and stronger. I’d like to see us regularly at the national championship and I think we’re moving in that direction. If we continue to improve, then there will come a time where we’re a conference champion.”
BYU’s 11-meet schedule features four teams currently ranked in the top 25 including Utah, Boise State, Denver and Central Michigan. The Cougars will host five meets and the conference championship meet will take place at Denver on March 22.
The Cougars return three seniors in KayCee Gassaway, Ashley Robinson and Jordan Schult, six juniors, eight sophomores and four incoming freshmen. Gassaway finished the 2014 season on the All-Conference First Team on the bars and All-Conference Second Team on the vault.
Junior Makenzie Johnson enters the 2015 season leading the team on the bars (9.762), beam (9.678), floor (9.778) and all-around (39.108) positions. Johnson was named MRGC Gymnast of the Week at the start of last season. Junior Eliane Kulczyk led the team on the vault with an average of 9.842 and was named MRGC Specialist of the Week twice last March.
“They’re doing well. Eliane is coming off a minor knee surgery," Cattermole said. "She’s an important part of the team, but she’s almost back to full throttle. Makenzie is looking good as well. She’s done well and she should step up for us. Our freshman Jill Van Mierlo is doing really well and she can be a freshman star.”
BYU opens the season with a home meet at the Marriott Center on Friday, Jan. 9 against No. 6 Utah at 7 p.m. MST. The meet will be televised live on BYUtv and can also be seen on byutvsports.com.