BYU places second, Miner wins all-around at Rio Tinto Best of Utah meet
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (Jan. 11, 2020) — BYU used strong results on floor and vault and the all-around performance of junior Abbey Miner to place second behind No. 4 Utah on Saturday night in the inaugural Rio Tinto Best of Utah gymnastics meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.
The fourth-ranked Utes placed first with a 197.000, followed by BYU at 195.575, Southern Utah at 194.650 and Utah State at 194.150.
“Congrats to Utah," BYU gymnastics head coach Guard Young said. "They put on a great event. What a great team and organization. Hats off to them."
BYU’s Miner won the all-around title with a 39.250, followed by Southern Utah’s Karley McClain in second at 39.175 and Utah’s Maile O’Keefe in third at 39.125. Miner has won the all-around competition in both BYU meets this season. She scored a career-high 39.325 in BYU’s win over No. 15 Nebraska in the team’s season opener on Monday.
Saturday’s event—the first of a five-year partnership between the four schools and the Maverik Center—marked the first time the state’s four premier gymnastics programs have competed against each other in the same venue on a raised podium floor.
Starting the meet on uneven bars, the Cougars scored 48.700 in the first rotation led by Abby Stainton’s 9.800 routine that anchored the lineup. BYU finished the rotation in second place behind Utah, who posted a strong 49.175 on vault, while Utah State tallied a 48.625 on balanced beam and Southern Utah scored 48.200 on the floor exercise.
Lexi Mather was first to take the beam for the Cougars in the second rotation and equaled her career-best score with a 9.750. Abby Miner followed with a 9.825 to post the team’s best score on the event that also featured Helody Cyrenne achieving a season-best 9.725 and Sadie Miner tallying a career-high 9.750. BYU finished the event with a 48.475, however, as All-American Shannon Evans suffered a fall making her season debut that forced Stainton’s 9.400 to count towards the team total. Evans did not compete in BYU’s season opener on Monday as she is coming back from injury.
“Our team’s fight tonight was unbelievable,” Evans said. “They’re always going to be ups and downs. It seemed like there were a fair share of downs tonight, but I didn’t see anyone get down. We all looked at each other and regrouped after each event and said, 'It’s not over until it’s over.'”
BYU moved to floor in fourth place (97.175) to start the third rotation as Southern Utah (97.250) and Utah State (97.525) both advanced in the standings after totaling 49.050 on vault and 48.900 on floor, respectively. Utah’s 49.225 score on bars increased its overall advantage with a two-rotation score of 98.400.
The floor provided some needed momentum for the Cougars as they entered the second half of the meet. Stainton and Brittney Vitkauskas both delivered 9.800 routines around a 9.700 from Rachel Bain, before Sadie Miner, Briana Pearson and Abbey Miner pushed the team’s totals with three strong scores of 9.850, 9.875 and 9.875, respectively. The Cougars recorded a season-high 49.200 on the event as Stainton, Pearson and Abbey Miner all set or matched their season-best floor scores.
Despite the strong effort, BYU wasn’t able to gain ground on Southern Utah as the Thunderbirds jumped into a second-place tie with Utah State after posting a 49.250 on bars. At 146.375, BYU went to vault to try and overtake the Aggies and Thunderbirds, who both sat at 146.500 entering the final rotation.
Evans, who also returned to the vault team as she gradually works her way back into the BYU lineups, delivered a more satisfactory result in her second appearance, recording a 9.850 vault after sticking her landing. Abbey Miner also added a 9.850, a season high, while her sister Sadie Miner took not only the top spot for BYU but also for the entire meet with a career-high and event-best vault score of 9.900.
The strong final-rotation effort not only vaulted the Cougars to its 195.575 final tally and second-place finish but also secured the all-around title for Abbey Miner.
“You can’t win the meet after just three events,” Young said. “Our floor and vault teams really picked it up and the energy got bigger for us. This is a deep team. I’m proud of our back-ups.”
Overall, BYU boasted three of the top seven vaults on the night. In addition to Sadie Miner (9.900) winning the vault title, Evans and Abbey Miner (9.850) placed third overall tied with three other gymnasts. Utah’s Cammy Hall (9.875) placed second. Abbey Miner and Pearson (9.875) also placed high on floor, finishing tied for second with two other gymnasts behind Utah’s Kim Tesson (9.900).
BYU returns to action next Saturday, Jan. 18, when it hosts UCLA and Utah State at 6 p.m. MST in the Marriott Center.
BYU prepares for Rio Tinto Best of Utah meet on Saturday
PROVO, Utah – The BYU gymnastics team will attend the first-ever Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics meet this Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. MST at the Maverik Center, facing local rivals Utah, Utah State and Southern Utah.
This meet will be the first of a multi-year partnership with Rio Tinto and the Maverik Center and will take place for the next five seasons. Additionally, this marks the second time the schools will compete all together, the first time being in 1993.
The gymnasts will compete on a raised podium floor, a new aspect for several of head coach Guard Young’s gymnasts.
“It’s a treat for gymnastics fans,” Young said. “Being up on a podium actually heightens the event. I’m a gymnastics fan first, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it and see how these girls handle being on a podium.”
Saturday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. MST, Maverik Center
Live Stats: http://sidearmstats.com/utah/w-gym/
THE COUGARS. BYU received a preseason WCGA ranking of No. 23. In the season opener on Monday, the Cougars took down No. 15 Nebraska, snagging the first win of the season 195.750-195.600. This win ended a four-meet losing streak against the Huskers since BYU’s last series win in 1998.
THE THUNDERBIRDS. At the MRGC Championships in 2019, SUU finished second place, ending the season with a No. 24 ranking. This season, the team received a preseason ranking of No. 26 from the WCGA’s Preseason Poll to follow just behind other nationally ranked MRGC contenders No. 18 Boise State and No. 23 BYU. The Thunderbirds will kick off their season on Thursday, Jan. 9 against No. 15 Nebraska.
THE UTES. Currently sitting at No. 5, Utah started the season with a 196.425-195.350 win against No. 12 Kentucky on Friday, Jan. 3. A standout performer, senior Kim Tessen, picked up wins on all three of her events–vault, uneven bars and floor.
THE AGGIES. Utah State came off the 2019 season with a 5-13 overall record. In the preseason polls, the team earned a No. 41 ranking in the country. The Aggies will be on the road the entire month of January and will make their season debut at the Best of Utah meet. On Saturday, Jan. 18, the Aggies will compete in the Marriott Center against BYU and UCLA.