Megan Donehue won the bars and beam events against Southern Utah. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- BYU recorded a higher score than any of its gymnastics meets last year, but the Cougars still lost their season opener Thursday night in the Smith Fieldhouse as Southern Utah came back on the final rotation for a 194.100-193.050 victory.
During an injury-plagued season in 2009, BYU’s season-high was a 192.850. Despite a few missteps, Brad Cattermole’s team showed it is prepared to take this season to a higher level.
“As a whole, we did very well and I am pleased,” Cattermole said. “We struggled on floor but that is typically our best event so we will get that turned around. We just need to gain confidence and this was a good step in the right direction.”
Cougar senior Megan Donehue won the bars (9.800) and beam (9.825) events, while Southern Utah’s Bailey Baker and Shannon Coughlin tied for the top score on the floor exercise (9.750) and the Thunderbirds’ Melissa Johnson claimed the vault title (9.875).
BYU started the meet with a 48.400 score on vault, led by senior Danielle Goldman’s 9.775 effort. Just under her career-high of 9.800, Goldman’s performance was her fourth straight vault score of 9.750 or better dating back to last season. While Goldman provided senior leadership on BYU’s opening event, freshman Haylee Rollins showed well in her first collegiate meet with a 9.700 vault for BYU’s second-best tally.
The Cougars totaled a 48.500 on bars to finish the halfway point of the meet trailing the Thunderbirds, 97.425-96.900, thanks to SUU’s consistent scores of 48.525 on bars and 48.900 on vault. Donehue stepped up last on bars for BYU and delivered a team-high 9.800. McKell Merkley, who returned to action for BYU after missing all but two meets last year due to injury, performed well with a 9.725 bars routine for BYU’s second-best score on the event.
Natalie Eyre got the Cougars off to a good start on beam with a 9.725 on the team’s first routine, and Donehue later delivered the night’s best performance with a 9.825. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds had to count Lauren Jeffery’s 9.150 on the floor exercise once Ari Lamb suffered an 8.200 score on their third routine. BYU’s solid 48.725 team total on beam coupled with SUU’s team-low 47.675 on the floor put the Cougars in front 145.625-145.100 going into the final rotation.
The floor exercise, however, also proved to be a nemesis for the Cougars as BYU was unable to maintain its lead thanks to a meet-low 47.475 total on the event. Two falls and two step-outs by the first four Cougars resulted in BYU counting a 9.000 score even though Madeleine Johnson and Goldman finished off the meet with solid 9.725 tallies. Led by Lamb’s 9.800 contribution, SUU scored 48.800 on beam to earn the winning margin.
BYU competes again on Jan. 23 at the University of Denver.