(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah – After placing sixth at regionals, the BYU women’s gymnastics team looks to improve from last season with 12 returning gymnasts, four incoming freshmen, one transfer student and a new head coach.
Beginning his first year as the women’s gymnastics head coach, Guard Young is looking forward to making a new mark at BYU. Young comes to BYU from the University of Oklahoma where he served as the assistant coach to the men’s gymnastics team. Young helped the men’s team take the 2015 NCAA National Team Championship and hopes to do the same for the BYU women’s team this year.
“My goal for every season is to win a national championship,” Young said. “The only thing we can do is hit routines and stick landings. We need to focus on what we can control and that is how hard we work.”
Young has implemented a whole new program, including a new training schedule and two new assistant coaches, Natalie Broekman and Brogan Evanson. Young realizes having a new coaching staff can be difficult for returning gymnasts, but says he has seen nothing but support from the team.
“They’ve been very accepting of the new coaching staff,” Young said. “I’m happy to say they’re pretty much all on board and they’re working as hard as they possibly can.”
BYU’s 12-meet schedule features five teams currently ranked in the top 25, including Utah, Boise State, Arizona, Central Michigan and Southern Utah. The Cougars will host three meets, and the conference championship meet will take place at Boise State on March 19.
The Cougars return three seniors in Makenzie Johnson Halliday, Mikaela Jones and Emily Vidmar, two juniors, seven sophomores and five incoming freshmen. Halliday finished the 2015 season on the All-MRGC First Team on the balance beam and in all-around.
Halliday enters the 2016 season leading the team on floor (9.825 average), vault (9.842), beam (9.754) and all-around (39.140), while junior Eliane Kulczyk was the team leader on bars (9.850). Sophomore Jill Van Mierlo followed closely behind with team highs on beam (9.925) and bars (9.900). She was also named MRGC freshman of the year.
Senior Makenzie Johnson Halliday feels coach Young has prepared their team well and expects great things for the upcoming season.
“Workouts have been a lot tougher, but it has been good for us," Halliday said. "Everyone has been working so hard and I can tell it’s going to be a great year for us. Our goal is to make nationals this year, and I truly believe we can do it.”
The Cougars will open their season in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 8 against No. 3 Utah.
“I can’t wait to debut a new BYU gymnastics team at Utah,” Young said. “It’s a dream come true. I think it’s awesome we get to go there for the first meet of the year.”
While Young works hard to prepare his team for the upcoming season, he has only one request for Cougar fans.
“We need all the fan base and support we can get from everybody including alumni, local clubs, the community and campus support,” Young said. “We need to have as many as we can come out and support these girls because they are worthy of your support.”
The team will hold a Blue and White Intrasquad meet on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. MST in the Smith Fieldhouse. General admission will be free to the public.