Danielle Goldman led the Cougars to their highest score of the year on the floor exercise.
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PROVO -- The BYU gymnastics team had the Marriott Center rocking Friday night as the Cougars closed out the season with their second-highest score of the year at 192.725 against No. 2 Utah. However, the Utes also came up big with their best score of the season and the second-highest mark recorded by any team in the country this year at 197.800 to take home the Deseret First Duel trophy.
“Tonight was fun,” said BYU head coach Brad Cattermole. “When you’re doing well and having fun in front of the crowd, everyone performs better. We had a good crowd tonight, which really got us going.”
The Cougars started the meet in fine fashion on the vault with their second-highest score of the year on that event at 48.500. Three career highs sparked the BYU effort led by freshman Emiko Ono. The newcomer posted a tremendous vault worth 9.850. Freshman Mickell Merrell also established a new personal best at 9.650 while sophomore Madeleine Johnson began her all-around competition with a career-high 9.600. However, five scores above 9.800 on the uneven bars helped Utah score a 49.375 to come out on top after the first rotation.
After sitting out the last five meets with an ankle injury, junior co-captain Megan Donehue gave the Cougars an emotional boost with her return on the uneven bars, scoring a 9.725 to tie her season high. However the two gymnasts before Donehue both fell, forcing BYU to count one of the slip-ups. A 9.800 from Johnson contributed to a final Cougar tally of 46.850 on the event while Utah scored a 49.550 on the vault to stay in the lead.
Coming off its best performance of the year on the balance beam last week at Utah State, BYU performed well on the event in the third rotation with their second-highest score of the season at 48.500. Beam specialist Kaylee Gallup led the way with a 9.825 while freshman Jennifer Lezeu was right behind with a 9.800. The Utes put on a clinic in the third rotation on the floor, showing why they are ranked No. 1 in the nation on that event with a total score of 49.600 and individual scores ranging from 9.875 to 9.975.
Career highs from junior Danielle Goldman (9.850) and sophomore Whitney Olsen (9.800) were the Cougar highlights on the floor exercise as BYU posted its highest mark of the year on that event at 48.875. The Cougars did not count a score lower than 9.700 on their way to the high mark with a 9.775 from Johnson, a 9.750 from Merrell and a 9.700 from Jessica Villegas.
Johnson paced three Cougars competing in the all-around with a career-high score of 38.775. Utah’s Nina Baskett, who ranks second in the country in the all-around, took the title with a 39.650.
“This has been a tough year, but a great year,” said Cattermole. “We’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries, but our gymnasts have really stepped up when they had to. They don’t get down, and they never give up. I’m really proud of them.”