(Photo by BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah — In BYU gymnastics head coach Guard Young’s second year at the helm of the program, the team qualified to compete at NCAA regionals and earned its highest regional score in 12 years, to cap off a successful season.
“I won’t be happy until we’re in contention to win a national championship. I know it’ll take time,” Young said. “Having said that, I am extremely proud of this team. I saw a tremendous amount of growth from every individual. They learned a lot about themselves as well as learning how to hit as a team and find team success.”
In the Cougars’ eighth-straight regional appearance and 26th time in 28 years, they finished in fifth place with a score of 195.025, ahead of Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference foe Utah State.
During the 2017 regular season, the Cougars finished ahead of then-ranked No. 21 Southern Utah, Arizona, Bowling Green, Centenary College and Temple. They also competed against other top-25 teams such as Utah, Boise State, Iowa and Utah State.
Season highlights include contending with then-ranked No. 17 Iowa on February 24 and posting a season-high 196.425, the highest score since 2005. At the same meet, BYU also earned season highs of 49.050 on beam and 49.225 on bars for the third time this year. The Cougars beat Arizona for the first time in 10 years on March 10 while recording a season-high 49.050 on vault in the process. On floor, they secured a season-high 49.200 on floor in the win over Southern Utah on March 13.
“We’ll take those accolades when we get them, but that’s not what we’re about. We’re about doing gymnastics, supporting each other and working our way up the rankings,” Young said.
BYU finished fourth at the MRGC Championship in Logan, Utah, where Shannon Hortman earned MRGC Freshman of the Year. Junior Mackenzie Douglas was named All-MRGC Co-Vault Champion after scoring a 9.825. She and freshman Angel Zhong were All-MRGC Vault First-Team selections. Hortman finished second in the all-around competition (39.250) and junior Jill van Mierlo came in third (38.700) after season-ending injuries the past two years.
Throughout the season, four Cougars earned weekly MRGC Gymnast and Specialist of the Week honors. A three-time Gymnast of the Week, Hortman also received Beam and Vault Specialist of the Week awards. Team captain Brittni Hawes garnered three Bars Specialist of the Week honors, sharing one of them with teammate Jessie Westergard. Douglas collected Vault and Floor Co-Specialist of the Week honors.
A junior, Hawes posted a career-high 9.950 on bars against Texas Woman’s and Centenary College on Feb. 11 to tie for second in program history on the event. Her top score and additional scores of 9.925 and 9.900 led to conference weekly specialist awards.
Hortman recorded career highs of 9.875 on vault, bars and beam and 9.900 on floor in her first year competing for BYU. She also earned a career-high 39.275 in the all-around competition against Utah State on Feb. 3.
Douglas competed consistently for the Cougars on three events and set career highs on all of them, including a 9.875 on both vault and bars and a 9.900 on floor twice. She posted a 9.800 or higher on vault in 9 of 13 meets.
Nationally, BYU finished the year ranked No. 33 overall. Young looks forward to building on the success of this season.
“We have a great class of incoming freshmen and a great class returning; I like the future of BYU gymnastics,” Young said.
Every routine performed at regionals will return for the 2018 campaign as the Cougars look to reach the NCAA Championship next year.