McKell Merkley's Career High 9.850 was not enough for the Cougars to defeat the Thunderbirds of SUU. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Nearly an entire season has passed since the No. 35 BYU Cougars competed against No. 22 Southern Utah and although both teams have matured since their last meeting the result remained the same as the Thunderbirds defeated the Cougars, 195.950-195.350.
In the first rotation the Cougars began on the uneven bars while the Thunderbirds started on the Vault. BYU received its highest mark on the event from senior bar specialist McKell Merkley who scored a career high 9.850. Megan Donehue followed with a 9.775. At the end of the rotation, the Cougars trailed SUU by .350 after the Thunderbirds posted four scores of 9.800 or higher.
BYU responded by scoring 9.800 on the vault by four gymnasts, Natalie Eyre, Danielle Goldman and Haylee Rollins all scored 9.800 as well as a career high 9.800 from Kaylee Gallup. Still, SUU led 98.125-97.700 after the second event. The Thunderbirds were very successful on the bars including a 9.925 by Alyssa Click.
The event for the Cougars was the floor exercise. Mickell Merrell and Jennifer Lezeu opened the event for BYU both scoring 9.775. Senior Danielle Goldman led the Cougars with a 9.850 tying her career high while freshman Haylee Rollins followed with a 9.825. Madeleine Johnson also contributed with a season-high 9.800. After a successful rotation, BYU was only .150 behind SUU.
With the pressure on both teams to perform, the Cougars and the Thunderbirds headed to their final rotation. Madeleine Johnson paced BYU with a career high 9.825. However, it was not enough as SUU secured their victory on the floor exercise.
The Cougars will finish their regular season Friday against the University of Utah at 7 p.m. in Salt Lake City.