PROVO -- In a match-up of the top two gymnastics teams in the state, the Utah Utes knocked off the BYU women's gymnastics team 197.725-195.525. The Cougars could not overcome three falls on the balance beam and Utah's consistency and took their first loss in almost two months.
A couple of seniors led the Cougars to their final score, but it wasn't quite enough. Jeni Lopez gave a consistent effort and turned in her career-best score in the all-around, a 39.175. Teammate and two-time All-American Kelly Evanson had a chance to win the all-around, but stepped out of bounds on her final tumbling pass on floor. Her 39.400 was still good enough for third in the meet.
"We did some real good stuff and we did some not-so good stuff," head coach Brad Cattermole said. "We just need to stay on the equipment."
The problem equipment for the Cougars once again was the balance beam. BYU had three falls, and despite strong performances from the other three gymnasts, the Cougars were unable to recover. Not everyone had problems on the beam though, as Evanson notched her career-best score on the beam, a 9.925.
"For us to do well, we can't make these type of mistakes," Cattermole said. "Without those falls, we were right in it. It's too hard to make up for those mistakes though against Utah."
Utah also had trouble on the beam, but was hitting on all cylinders in every other event. Theresa Kulikowski won the all-around title with a 39.575. Utah had five all-around competitors and all five scored a 38.900 or better.
"Utah is a very good team, they always are," Cattermole said. "They struggled a bit on beam too, but they were strong enough to overcome their mistakes."
Evanson also tied her season-high on vault with a 9.875. Freshman Jaime Mabray tied her career-high on the bars with a 9.800, and scored a new career high on floor with a 9.875. Lopez tied a career high on bars with a 9.875. Brooke Craig also tied a career high, a 9.825 on balance beam.
"We're going to have to start hitting our routines or else it's going to be a short season," Cattermole said.
The Cougars will face Missouri at home on Saturday, Mar. 9. The meet was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., but will take place at 8 p.m. in the Smith Field House.
PROVO -- In its biggest meet of the season so far, the BYU women's gymnastics team will host No. 4 Utah at the Marriott Center Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Cougars are fresh off another season-high score in defeating Utah State and Boise State, but this meet will be different with BYU and Utah, the top two gymnastics teams in the state, competing.
"You always look forward to the Utah meet," BYU head coach Brad Cattermole said. "It brings out the best in everyone."
Utah is coming off a rare loss at Michigan. Utah still managed to score a 196.175 in the loss, but the score cost the Utes two spots in the national rankings. BYU will need to get its season-best score to knock off the Utes, but Cattermole is more concerned with hitting routines than winning the meet.
"We want to win the meet; I mean you never go into a meet hoping to lose," Cattermole said. "But if I had the choice of taking a 196.5 and a win or a 197 and a loss, I'd take the 197."
The Cougars are positioning themselves for the NCAA Regional tournament and NCAA Nationals. BYU wants to continue to climb in the national rankings by improving its score each week, which would guarantee the Cougars a good seed for the regional tournament.
BYU will look for a boost from competing in the Marriott Center for the first time this season. The Cougars got their first home meet of the season last week at the Smith Field House, but the Marriott Center should draw a larger crowd and the team is looking forward to the meet.
"We're way excited to be in the Marriott Center," Cattermole said. "The Marriott Center is a little easier to compete in than the Field House."
In the meet against Utah State and Boise State, All-American Kelly Parkinson-Evanson led the Cougars and took the all-around with a score of 39.475. All of the Cougars looked good in each event except for the balance beam, where the Cougars were forced to count two falls.
"Balance beam is a fickle thing," Cattermole said. "If you get on a roll, you're unbeatable."
Despite the recent struggles with balance beam, the Cougars have still managed to set season highs every single meet. Once BYU starts hitting on that event, the Cougars should start posting some very impressive scores. Cattermole is confident the team will start scoring well on beam very soon.
"Beam is a question of confidence and execution," Cattermole said. "We've been hitting the routines in practice, so I know we've got the execution part down. Now we just need to do it in the meet and I think we will do that this week."
Utah is led by junior All-American Theresa Kulikowski, who scored a 39.800 in her first all-around this season. The Utes are very deep though, and their gymnastics tradition is one of the best in the country.
"Utah is a great team," Cattermole said. "They have a lot of high-level athletes, they are very clean and they don't make a lot of mistakes. You can't make a mistake against them because they're just so clean."
Friday's meet will be televised by KBYU-TV live on BYUTV, and it will be rebroadcast at 11 p.m. on KBYU-TV (Channel 11).