After a disappointing finish to a record-setting 2001 season, the Cougars are hungry to learn from their mistakes and capitalize on this year's opportunities.
The 2001 season saw BYU have its highest scoring season ever, end the regular season ranked at No. 11 in the nation and enter the West Regional as the No. 2 seed. The Cougars set new team records in all four events and looked for a strong finish at the end of the season.
But the Cougars failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships with a sub-par performance at the West Regional. Eventual National Champion UCLA easily took first at the meet and Oregon State edged out BYU for the final berth into Nationals.
"I'd like to have the same kind of season as last year, just finish stronger," Head Coach Brad Cattermole said.
The Cougars get their chance at revenge early in the season against Oregon State. BYU travels to Corvallis, Ore., on January 25 to take on the Beavers.
"That's a really tough meet to start with," Cattermole said. "If you beat them at home, you did exceptionally well."
The Cougars will miss their lone departed senior Kim Little. Little excelled in the floor exercise, where she set the school record in the last home meet of her career, scoring a 9.975. Little also starred in the all-around, with a personal best score of 39.475. Little's leadership abilities will be missed on and off the floor.
Senior All-American Kelly Parkinson-Evanson leads the Cougars' charge into the 2002 season. In the 2001 season, she set the BYU all-around competition record, scoring a 39.550 in the meet against Southern Utah. Parkinson-Evanson then broke her own record in the Utah State meet later in the year, scoring a 39.625. She tied the mark with another 39.625 against Utah.
Parkinson-Evanson was ranked No. 5 nationally in the all-around at the end of the season. She returns to lead a balanced team towards similar goals from last year, but Cattermole hopes for better results this time around.
"We're at least as strong as last year, and maybe a little bit stronger," Cattermole said. "If we can avoid injuries, I would predict a great season."
Senior Angie Hickman will also provide leadership for the Cougars. Hickman excels on the floor and also the vault. She may perform in the bars this year. Jeni Lopez returns and is expected to compete in the all-around. Lopez is known for her consistency, and the rest of the Cougars will try and feed off of that stability.
Mindi Hilton comes back from a shoulder injury and should improve BYU's lineup, especially on the bars. Unfortunately, the injury bug hit a different Cougar this season. Trisha Driggs, who would have started her second season with BYU, will have to sit out the year with an injury. Driggs is a transfer from Texas University, where she won the Division II National Championship on beam.
Newcomers Jaime Mabray, Kirsten Pauga, Megan Shupe and Lena Johnson hope to strengthen BYU's depth in the lineup. All four highly touted recruits look to take off from the groundwork laid by departing senior Little and increase the Cougars' depth.
With dual meets this season against national contenders like Oregon State and Utah, Cattermole knows his team will need to perform its best throughout the year. But he also knows that only the end of the season really matters.
"The only time a win-loss record really matters is at regionals and nationals," Cattermole said.