SALT LAKE CITY — Makenzie Johnson Halliday took first place in the all-around with a 38.875 in a solid opening meet for the BYU women’s gymnastics team, but the Cougars fell to No. 3 Utah Friday night at the Huntsman Center.
"Our team was outstanding today, but you're not going to beat Utah coming up with some mistakes," BYU head coach Guard Young said. "You're going to have to be absolutely perfect, so we'll have to tighten that up if we're going to run with them."
No. 3 Utah finished with a 196.175 to BYU's 193.850. The Utes scored a 9.850 or better six times in the four different events, the highest score being a 9.925 on bars.
Brittni Wilde led the Cougars on the bars in their first rotation with a 9.775. Freshman Natasha Trejo came in second with a 9.700 in her first event and meet as a BYU Cougar. Seniors Emily Vidmar and Halliday earned 9.675 and 9.650 scores, respectively. Mackenzie Douglas and Jill Van Mierlo would help bring BYU's bars score to a 48.275 against the Utes' 48.950 on the vault.
On floor, the Cougars totaled a 48.575 with Halliday earning a 9.800 and taking second in the event. Vidmar followed with a 9.75 and To a 9.725. This was the Cougars best rotation of the night.
In BYU's last rotation, Halliday led the team with a 9.825 routine on beam, the highest score of the night for the Cougars. Vidmar scored a 9.750 and Van Mierlo and Trejo tied with a 9.650 to end the rotation.
Halliday was named the most valuable performer from BYU, while also being the only gymnast to compete in all-around for the Cougars. To's performance on vault gave her fourth place on the event, while Halliday tied for first on beam and took fourth on floor.
"15,000 people at a gymnastics meet all wearing red, it's quite the meet to start with," Young said. "I love coming up here and I'm excited to be able to keep this going every year. Next year they're coming down to us. Hopefully we can rub off some of the magic they have up here."
The Cougars stay on the road next week to take on Central Michigan at the McGuirk Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. EST.
Cougars open season with Deseret First Duel Friday
PROVO, Utah – No. 3 Utah hosts BYU's women’s gymnastics team in the season opener for the Deseret First Duel Friday at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
“Our focus for the meet should be hitting routines and sticking landings,” BYU head coach Guard Young said. “We should not be worried about the scores. They are what they are. We can also focus on supporting each other no matter what is happening.”
The Cougars opened their 2015 season by scoring a 193.350 when Utah won at BYU's Marriott Center under previous head coach Brad Cattermole.
BYU's new head coach came to BYU from the University of Oklahoma where he was an assistant men's gymnastics coach. In nine seasons at OU, Young, a former Olympian, was a part of four NCAA championship teams and five NCAA runner-up teams. Young looks to continue this trend and take his team to the NCAA championship.
"I really want to see everyone supporting each other's efforts as well as fight," Young said. "Being the first meet of the year things may not go as planned. I want to see how each athlete handles it when they need to make a quick adjustment."
The 2016 BYU team features 12 returners, four freshmen and one transfer. For more information on the season outlook, see the 2016 season preview.
The meet begins at 6 p.m. MST and will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.