(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
DENVER, Colo. -- The BYU women’s gymnastics team started and finished well at NCAA Regionals in Denver on Saturday but the Cougars struggled in the two rotations in between and finished in sixth with a team score of 194.650. Arkansas finished in first with a score of 196.550 while Florida trailed close behind with a 196.425. Both the Razorbacks and the Gators will advance to the NCAA Championships, held April 15-17 in Cleveland, Ohio.
After a strong showing on vault, the Cougars finished the first complete rotation in third place, trailing Florida and Boise State but ahead of Arkansas, Arizona and Denver. BYU began the meet on vault and junior Natalie Eyre led the way for the Cougars posting an impressive 9.850. Eyre’s vault gave her a 5th place finish in the event. Meanwhile, Haylee Rollins and KayCee Gassaway both recorded a solid 9.800.
Rotation two did not fare as well for BYU as the Cougars found themselves in fifth place after competing on the Uneven Bars. Haylee Rollins, in the consistent manner in which she has performed throughout the season, scored a team-high 9.800 on the event followed closely by her fellow Phoenix Gymnastics Academy alumnus Raquel Willman, who posted a 9.775.
Things began to unravel for BYU in the third rotation as the Cougars competed on beam and received only two scores above a 9.700. Freshman Megan Bain continued to prove that the rookies at BYU have ice water in their veins as Bain gave the Cougars their best beam score of the night with 9.750. At the conclusion of a frustrating rotation, Krysten Koval was able to finished the rotation on a more positive note with a 9.725.
In their final rotation, BYU was able to regain composure but it was too late. Competing in the final meet of her career, senior Jessica Villegas led the Cougars on the floor exercise with a 9.800. Bain, Willman and Mickell Merrell each received a 9.775.