Jennifer Lezeu was named Cougar of the Meet on Friday against Denver and Utah State. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- BYU gymnasts recorded four career-best scores and 11 season-high performances Friday night at the Smith Fieldhouse to help the Cougars achieve their highest team total in two years. BYU’s 194.975 score, however, was not quite enough to earn the victory as a strong Denver team edged the Cougars with a 195.050 total. Utah State placed third at 190.475.
“This meet was really good for our team morale,” BYU coach Brad Cattermole said. “We’ve had a lot of meets where we have struggled to be healthy. We look forward to building on what we achieved tonight in our next few meets.”
BYU’s Megan Donehue (9.850) won the beam competition and tied for first with teammate McKell Merkley and Denver’s Brianna Springer on bars with a 9.825, while Cougar Jennifer Lezeu (9.875) shared the floor title with Springer. BYU’s Danielle Goldman (9.850) finishing second. BYU’s Natalie Eyre (9.825) and Denver’s Kelley Hennigan won the vault with 9.825 scores and BYU’s Madeleine Johnson was the runner-up to Donehue on beam with a 9.775. Denver’s Springer claimed the all-around victory with a 39.125.
The Cougars started strong with a season-high vault score of 48.800 while Denver tallied a 48.175 on beam and Utah State scored a 47.525 on bars. Eyre delivered a season-high 9.825 vault to lead BYU. Donehue (9.750), Haylee Rollins (9.750) and Sarah Yandow (9.700) also achieved personal bests for the season on BYU’s opening event while Danielle Goldman had the team’s second-best vault score of 9.775.
BYU maintained its season-high momentum in the second rotation, totaling the team’s top bars score of the year with a 48.850. All five Cougars counting toward the team score also set or tied personal bests for the season on the event. Donehue and Merkley led the way with identical 9.825 routines. For Merkley it was her first chance this year to compete on bars and came through with a career performance, matching her all-time best score set during her freshman season in 2007.
At the meet’s midway point, BYU (97.650) maintained a slim team lead over Denver (97.275) after the Pioneers scored a meet-high 49.100 on floor. Utah State (94.775) recorded a 47.250 on beam in the second rotation.
Denver (146.075) slide past BYU (145.900) to take the lead entering the final rotation with a 48.800 total on vault while the Cougars scored 48.250 on beam and the Aggies (143.325) tallied a 48.550 on floor. Donehue again paced BYU with a 9.850 while Johnson scored a career-best 9.775 and Lezeu recorded her season-high effort on beam with a 9.750.
Despite BYU’s continued barrage on season- and career-high numbers in the final rotation, Denver was able to hold on to its slim margin to gain the victory with a 48.975 on bars. BYU scored a season-high 49.075 on the floor exercise but fell short of the Pioneers by just .075. Lezeu (9.875), Jessica Villegas (9.825) and Mickell Merrell (9.800) each recorded new career highs on floor for BYU while Rollins (9.725) tied her season best. Johnson (9.625) also had a personal best on floor but her score wasn’t counted after Goldman stepped up last for BYU and came through with a team-high 9.850.
BYU will compete at Southeast Missouri on Feb. 13 before traveling to Logan to face Utah State again on Feb. 19.