Sierra Jacobs (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
Season Review -- For the BYU Women's gymnastics team, there is no better way to end a season than with a trip to Nationals, especially when it's the first trip in five years.
Though the Cougars were only the third seed heading into the North Central Regional, they pulled off a solid performance that landed them a second place finish, edging out No. 2 seed Oregon. They faced tough judging and the No. 1 team in the nation, and were still able to score a 195.975, their fourth highest score of the season. That second place finish took the Cougars all the way the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Nationals, hosted by Auburn University in Alabama.
At Nationals the gymnasts were both nervous and excited as this was a first time experience for all the competing gymnasts. As the seventh seed, BYU had a strong chance of making the super six. However, as competition in the second session began, the solid performances of the Cougars were not enough to gain a lead over the other competitors. They ended the hard-fought competition in sixth place, with an overall eleventh-place national finish.
"I felt like the girls competed hard," said head coach Brad Cattermole. "At least we were there with the opportunity. There are many teams out there who would have loved to been 11th or 12th."
A solid season is what got the gymnastics team to Nationals in the first place. They started the season with six straight wins, losing only to Oklahoma in their opening meet in Cancun. The Cougars went on the defeat all of their opponents at least once, except Utah, who was ranked No. 1 for the majority of the season. They ended the regular season 10-6 with an average score of 195.135.
Despite minor setbacks and injuries, the Cougars were still able to fight their way into the BYU record books. In their second defeat of Utah State, the Cougars posted a 49.500 on beam, a third-place record. Two weeks later they earned a fourth-place record with 49.400.
"By the end of the season we were fighting the injury bug," said Cattermole. "But the girls were great. No one said a word."
Beam was not the only event where the Cougars shined. The vault team, which is consistently ranked in the top ten, earned two new records. In their second meet against Southern Utah, BYU scored a 49.325, which gave them a second-place spot in the record books. Again in the last meet against Utah, BYU smashed all previous meet scores with a 49.450, which earned a third-place record.
"We had a great season," said Cattermole. "We struggled through parts, especially with injuries and it appeared that the season might not be has good, but we pulled together at the end."
The final meet of the regular season against Utah was the best meet of the season. Not only did BYU earn an overall team high (196.825) and two records, but many gymnasts earned season and career highs including Kacie Capra, Alethea Boon, Genevieve Claveau, Marie-Helene Claveau, Jaime Mabray, Kirsten Pauga and Dayna Smart.
Three Cougars earned BYU records. Marie-Helene Claveau tied her fifth-place record on floor while Jaime Mabray and Dayna Smart tied for an eighth-place record on beam. Both Claveau and Mabray hold records from previous years and Smart, who is only a sophomore, has room for many more.
The trip to Nationals signaled the end of collegiate careers for Mabray and the Claveau twins. Mabray and Marie-Helene led the team in the all-around, with Genevieve acting as a strength on bars and floor.
"I was happy with the season, however there were a couple of times I would have liked to pull my hair out," said Cattermole.
This year's strong sophomores will stick around to lead next year's team. Smart and Capra were among this year's top gymnasts and will be looked to for strong performances along with Kandis Kelly, Sierra Jacobs and Candace Bauer.