PROVO, Utah – No. 18 BYU defeated Southern Utah University 195.750 to 194.475 Friday afternoon in the Smith Fieldhouse in front of a record-setting crowd.
"This is huge for us to go and beat an in-conference opponent that was ranked ahead of us at the beginning of the season," BYU head coach Guard Young said. "We outperformed them today. We have high-level Cougar gymnastics going on right now."
The Smith Fieldhouse welcomed over 3,000 local elementary school students to watch the Cougars take on the Thunderbirds and set a gymnastics attendance record of 5,112. The previous record of 4,753 attending had stood since 1999.
"The atmosphere was great," Young said. "This place was packed from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. It was unbelievable to have all these kids here and get them excited about Cougar gymnastics."
BYU began its first rotation on vault and posted a 48.825, the team's highest vault score of the season. Senior captain Mackenzie Douglas and freshman Avery Bennett led the team, both scoring a 9.800. Sophomore Angel Zhong and senior captain Jill Van Mierlo added scores of 9.775 each to help the Cougars reach the season high. After the first rotation, BYU led SUU 48.825 to 48.675.
In the second rotation on bars, the Cougars earned a 48.925, matching the team's season-high in its upset win over California. Senior captain Brittini Hawes and sophomore Shannon Hortman Evans both recorded a 9.850. Freshman Abbey Boden contributed a score of 9.775 to help the Cougars maintain their edge over the Thunderbirds 97.750 to 96.825.
Evans received a 9.800 on beam to lead BYU in the third rotation. Junior Natasha Marsh and freshman Abby Boden both earned 9.775 for their routines, keeping the Cougars ahead by almost a whole point, 146.550 to 145.575.
The Cougars closed the meet on floor with a 49.200, the highest event score of the meet. Douglas earned a 9.875, the highest individual score for BYU. Sophomore Brianna Pearson and van Mierlo each earned scores of 9.850 to ensure the victory for the Cougars over the Thunderbirds, 195.750 to 194.475. Evans and van Mierlo battled for the all-around title, resulting in van Mierlo coming out on top with a 39.025.
BYU continues at home when the team takes on Air Force at the Smith Fieldhouse next Friday, Jan. 26 at 7:00 p.m. MST. The meet will be broadcast live on BYUtv with live stats available on the women’s gymnastics schedule page.