No. 13 BYU Takes On Southern Utah

PROVO -- The No. 13 BYU women's gymnastics team looks to conquer another in-state foe when it competes with Southern Utah Friday night. In their last meet, the Cougars defeated Utah State Feb. 6 with a season-high score of 195.425.

"Southern Utah is always an important meet for us," BYU head coach Brad Cattermole said. "It's on the road still, but at least this one is in the state."

BYU has yet to perform in front of the hometown fans. The road-weary Cougars will finally get their chance next week when they host Boise State and Utah State. The road trips have been successful so far, with victories at Oregon State, the Cat Classic and Utah State, but being on the road has taken its toll on the team.

"We've been gone across the country the whole season so far," Cattermole said. "It's been pretty grueling on the kids so far, but I'm really happy with how well we've done."

The Cougars continue to improve with each meet and move up in the national rankings. Along with its No. 13 ranking in the nation, BYU is fourth in the region, trailing Utah, Iowa State and Minnesota.

"At this point, the rankings really don't mean that much," Cattermole said. "It's still early in the season and we haven't even performed at home yet. Our fist home meet will help out our scoring and our ranking as well."

BYU's steady improvement is a sign of its strengths - depth and consistency. At Oregon State, BYU scored194.400. At the Cat Classic, BYU scored 194.950. And against Utah State, the Cougars continued to improve by scoring a 195.425.

In the Utah State meet, BYU dominated the Aggies, winning by a score of 195.425-191.925. All-American Kelly Evanson led the Cougar charge, taking the all-around with a score of 39.225. Freshman Jaime Mabray (39.075) and sophomore Kari Dye (38.600) rounded out BYU's sweep of the all-around at the meet.

Southern Utah is coming off its season-best score, a 192.375 at Arizona State. Carly Geronimo leads the Thunderbirds with the season-best all-around score (38.975) for the team at that same meet. The BYU meet will be a lift for the Thunderbirds, as it is their first home meet of the season.

BYU will compete with Boise State and Utah State Feb. 22. The Cougars look to sweep the Aggies and hope to keep the winning streak alive. But BYU needs to take care of business against Southern Utah to keep the streak alive this weekend.

"We're still seeing where this team is at," Cattermole said. "It's still early in the season. We're getting a good solid core."

Cattermole likes what he sees so far though. Dye, Mabray, Evanson and Lopez have all performed well in the all-around so far and Mindi Hilton has come back from injuries and performed well on the bars. Practically every gymnast on the team has made a contribution to the team and the continual improvement is a good sign of things to come.

"We're expecting big things to happen by the end of this season," Cattermole said. "We assume we'll have better performances as the season goes on."

The Southern Utah meet will begin at 7 p.m. BYU competed against Southern Utah twice last season, with the Cougars coming out on top in both competitions.