(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
During the 2008 season the BYU gymnastics team saw its ninth-consecutive berth to the NCAA Regionals Tournament, where it placed fifth, and finished the season with a No. 24 national ranking in the Division I level.
During the year, BYU faced eight teams that finished the season in the Top 25, including eventual national-champion Georgia, No. 2 Utah and three other teams in the top 15. The Cougars amassed eight wins from this tough schedule that also included meets with in-state foes Utah State Southern Utah.
Taking a new approach to the season, BYU head coach Brad Cattermole scheduled fewer meets he has traditionally. This new tactic allowed the 2008 squad to prove its potential throughout the entire season, with less injuries, especially toward the end when rankings and scores count for Regionals.
Another change Cattermole made was to have each gymnast compete in only their best events, which resulted in less all-around competitors. Though the Cougars had a somewhat rocky beginning, with unusually low postings early on, the approach seemed to work for the squad in the end. BYU scored a season-best 196.300 in its final home meet of the season against Utah State.
Being a young team, with more than half underclassmen on the roster, the Cougars looked to their seniors for leadership and strength. Alethea Boon proved to be a major contributor as she claimed five individual event titles and three all-around titles throughout the year. Boon led the Cougars on the vault seven times, while Dayna Smart-Allen topped the squad on beam nine different times throughout the year.
Boon and Smart-Allen were the only Cougars to compete in the all-around during the year. Kylee Draper-Marvin, also key senior, led the BYU squad on the uneven bars scores seven different times.
Despite their youth, several underclassmen played significant roles throughout the season. Junior Hayley Jensen became a major strength to the BYU team. She claimed three individual event titles on the floor exercises, and led the Cougars on floor in six meets and four different times on the beam.
Sophomores Danielle Goldman and Heidi Poulson-Rasmussen were constants for the Cougars on floor, while Megan Donehue and McKell Poulson shined on the uneven bars. Kaylee Gallup contributed to the beam squad and Kiki Berrett on vault, both competing in every meet on the respective apparatus.
All gymnasts, though, proved to be an essential part of the 2008 BYU program. Each team member contributed to the final top-25 ranking and NCAA Regional appearance each in their specialized events.
Consistency is a way to describe this season’s BYU vault team. The Cougars predictably landed solid postings over the course of the season, only scoring below 48.700 three times. The team earned a season-best 49.200 in its final home meet of the year. That posting was the highest score BYU earned on any event all season.
Boon and Smart-Allen shined on the event throughout the year. The two both recorded 9.900 on the event, the best scores earned by any Cougar all year. Smart-Allen finished the season ranked 53rd in the nation while Boon finished 65th. Boon placed fifth individually on vault at Regionals. Sophomore Donehue and junior Jensen also contributed to BYU’s 31st-place final ranking. They both either tied or surpassed career-best scores at 9.825 and 9.800 respectively.
The Cougar squad experienced ups and downs this year when it came to the uneven bars, yet the team still scored at least 49.000 on three different occasions. The season-high 49.075 came in an away meet against Southern Utah University. BYU finished its season ranked 29th nationally on the apparatus.
Draper-Marvin topped the Cougar squad in seven meets throughout the season. She tied her career-best 9.875 on the event twice. As a result of other teammate injuries, the younger members of the team were able to prove their ability. Sophomore Megan Donehue recorded a career-best 9.850 in a home meet against Utah State and earned at least 9.800 marks in seven different meets.
Typically a statistically a strong event for the team, the 2008 beam squad did not fare as well as it has in recent years. Despite comparatively disappointing scores, BYU still finished the season ranked 32nd nationally. The Cougars’ season-best score of 48.975 was recorded in their final home meet of the season against Utah State.
Smart-Allen consistently led the team on beam, posting the highest event scores for BYU in nine of its 12 meets and recording a season-high 9.875. Boon and Jensen were also constants on beam. Boon scored a 9.850 twice throughout the season, and Jensen recorded a personal-best 9.850 at Regionals as she tied for sixth place on the event.
In what could be considered the strongest event for BYU this year, the Cougars finished with a 25th national ranking on the event. With a season best of 49.125, the team earned scores above 48.500 in every meet but two.
Boon and Smart-Allen each danced their way to a season-best 9.875 posting to lead the squad. Other team members contributed to the squad’s strength. Jensen posted a career-best 9.850 on three separate occasions, including once against Utah to take the individual title. Draper-Marvin recorded 9.825 twice on the season.
There were only two Cougar gymnasts to compete in the all-around this season. Boon competed a total of seven times to lead the Cougars. In a home meet against Southeast Missouri State, she tallied a remarkable 39.300, a personal best for the senior. Boon finished the year ranked 89th nationally in all-around competition. Smart-Allen competed once in the all-around recording a solid 38.350.