BYU Gymnastics Begins Season in Denver

The BYU women's Gymnastics team will kick off their 2011 season in Denver on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The BYU women’s gymnastics team will kick off their 2011 season with a challenge taking on two top 25 opponents, No. 7 Georgia and No. 16 Denver, as well as Air Force. The team will travel to Denver for the meet, which will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The meet will be held in Magness Arena.

“I’ve been really impressed with this group,” BYU head coach Brad Cattermole said. “This year when they’re standing around the chalk bucket they’re talking about little ways to improve their routines. I’m looking forward to the first meet. Workouts have been going well so we will see how it carries over into the meet.”

The meet will feature two of BYU’s nine ranked preseason opponents.

“I think it’s great that the girls will get to see this kind of competition early and often,” Cattermole said. “The more our team gets to see the best out there, the more they realize that they’re human too and the more you compete against them the better you do. Sometimes they start looking around and become more awestruck. But they realize that these opponents are not doing stuff out of this world and that we can compete with them.”

The Cougars will be led by junior captain Natalie Eyre and has an all-around impressive group with experience competing against fierce competition. BYU will also get their first look at their four promising freshmen.

Olympian Alicia Sacramone will be in attendance signing autographs at a meet and greet prior to the meet and handing out awards at the conclusion of the meet.

Georgia, a school widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s elite teams, will look to rebound from a disappointing season as they narrowly missed the NCAA Championships. The team finished their season ranked in the top-10 of all four events and a perfect 6-0 home record. They also defeated the eventual NCAA champion, the UCLA Bruins, during the regular season. The Gym Dogs’ head coach Jay Clark enters just his second season at the helm of the program after spending 17 years as an assistant/associate head coach under Suzanne Yoculan.

Denver is coming off a third place finish at the Salt Lake Regional last season, finishing behind Florida and Utah, with a score of 196.175. They are led by junior Brianna Springer, who qualified individually for the NCAA Championships all-around competition. The home team will look to start the season off strong.

Air Force features a group of five upperclassmen and nine newcomers. Four Falcons competed in NCAA Regionals individually at the conclusion of last season. Sophomore Jenna Dudley finished 16th in the individual all-around competition. The team travelled to Denton, Texas following Regionals to compete at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships where they finished fourth in the USAG National Qualifier.