PROVO, Utah – In the 2023 season, BYU gymnastics finished as the No. 33 team in the nation and made a run to the NCAA Regionals tournament. The Cougars racked up new accolades and high scores for a season full of highlights.
The 2023 team finished the season with a 195.802 average and a 392.525 National Qualifying Score (NQS) to put them among the top teams in the nation.
The nation took notice of BYU as two Cougars earned season awards from the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference: Senior standout Elease Rollins as MRGC Beam Specialist of the Year and freshman powerhouse Kylie Eaquinto as Freshman of the Year.
BYU finished its 2023 season third in the MRGC, going 3-5 in conference meets and 4-12 overall. The Cougars finished ranked No. 29 on beam, No. 36 on floor, No. 29 on bars and No. 32 on vault.
BYU said goodbye to six seniors after the 2023 season: Elease Rollins, Allix Mason, Anyssa Alvarado, Rebekah Ripley, Sarah Barron and Lindsey Hunter.
Rollins was awarded MRGC Beam Specialist of the Year after tying her career-high 9.975 on the apparatus. This score ties for the second-highest beam score in program history, which she has now earned in back-to-back seasons. She was also nominated for the 2023 AAI Award, presented to the nation's most outstanding senior. She finished the season ranked No. 28 on the balance beam after competing in every meet for the Cougars. The West Jordan, Utah native also competed on floor in every meet with a Top Gun-inspired routine, notching her new career-high score of 9.875. Because her beam NQS score was 9.920, Rollins qualified for regionals as an individual and competed against UCLA, Stanford and Missouri on day two of the Los Angeles Regional, scoring a 9.800 on the event.
Competing in three events during every meet this season, Benson quickly became a staple competitor for the Cougars. Her consistency on vault, bars and floor proved to be an important part of BYU's 2022-23 squad. After earning her new career-high of 9.900 on vault, the Riverton, Utah native was named MRGC Co-Vault Specialist of the Year. She also notched new career highs on bars (9.850) and floor (9.900) as the sophomore grew as the season progressed. With a final vault NQS score of 9.870, Benson qualified for the second day of regionals as an individual, tying her career-high 9.900 on the apparatus.
The freshman standout competed on vault and bars in every meet during her first season as a Cougar. Eaquinto earned scores above 9.800 on vault in all but one meet this season, notching a career-high 9.900 on the apparatus. With her consistency on the event, Eaquinto shared MRGC honors with teammate Benson, being named Co-Vault Specialist of the Year along with earning Freshman of the Year honors. As a solid competitor in the uneven bars lineup, the Orem, Utah native notched a high score of 9.875, which she earned twice this season. She also qualified as an individual for the second day of regionals, scoring a 9.800 on vault.
Barbie Girl Sensation
After suffering three knee injuries during her BYU career, Ripley became a viral sensation for her Barbie-girl-inspired floor routine this season. With articles and social media recognition from ESPNW, College Gym News and POPSUGAR, she quickly became a favorite in the world of gymnastics, thanks to the spunky choreography by coach Brogan Evanson. Competing as a senior after missing three seasons of competition, the Saint George, Utah native shined with her vibrant personality and hard skills on the floor. Ripley earned BYU’s highest individual floor score of 9.925, along with teammate Sophie Dudley.
BYU's 2023 All-MRGC Athletes
The following Cougars received the All-Conference accolades, according to their NQS score for the season.
- Elease Rollins: Beam Specialist of the Year, First Team Beam
- Sydney Benson: Co-Vault Specialist of the Year, First Team Vault
- Kylie Eaquinto: Co-Vault Specialist of the Year, First Team Vault
- Anyssa Alvarado: Second Team Bars
BYU gymnasts also received 17 different weekly MRGC awards as the Cougars proved consistently strong throughout the season. Alvarado, Rollins, Eaquinto, Benson, Mina Margraf, Ripley, Mason, Hunter, Dudley and Anna Bramblett were each honored during the season. Rollins received four weekly honors to lead the Cougars.
BYU's 2023 MRGC Weekly Award Winners
Beam Specialist of the Week: Elease Rollins (9.900)
Bars Specialist of the Week: Anyssa Alvarado (9.900)
Co-Bars Specialist of the Week: Anyssa Alvarado (9.925)
Co-Floor Specialist of the Week: Rebekah Ripley (9.925)
Co-Vault Specialists of the Week: Allix Mason and Kylie Eaquinto (9.850)
Co-Beam Specialist of the Week: Elease Rollins (9.925)
Co-Bars Specialist of the Week: Lindsey Hunter (9.925)
Beam Specialist of the Week: Mina Margraf (9.925)
Vault Specialist of the Week: Sydney Benson (9.900)
Co-Bars Specialist of the Week: Anna Bramblett (9.950)
Beam Specialist of the Week: Elease Rollins (9.950)
Co-Beam Specialist of the Week: Elease Rollins (9.925)
Co-Beam Specialist of the Week: Mina Margraf (9.900)
Co-Bars Specialist of the Week: Anyssa Alvarado (9.900)
Co-Floor Specialist of the Week: Sophie Dudley (9.925)
Co-Vault Specialists of the Week: Allix Mason and Sydney Benson (9.900)
Co-Floor Specialist of the Week: Sophie Dudley (9.900)
BYU started its season at the inaugural Super16 Vegas meet, earning a fourth-place finish with a final team score of 193.775. The Cougars followed up with the fourth-annual Rio Tinto Best of Utah meet, where they took fourth with a final score of 195.175. BYU’s overall score would only go up from there.
On January 27, the Cougars broke 196.000 for the first time this season, notching a 196.650 against Utah State. This score would prove to be BYU’s highest team score of the season. In that same meet, BYU posted its highest balance beam score of the season at 49.350.
BYU’s bar swingers found their groove on the apparatus, racking up several scores above 49.200 and recording a 49.300 against Ohio State in March. BYU’s vault team proved competitive this season, scoring a 49.375 for the highest team event score in 2023.
Known for their crowd-pleasing floor routines, the gymnasts scored above 49.225 seven times this season, including a 49.350 score for a season-high floor score against Southern Utah in February.
Bringing the season to a close, BYU accepted an invitation to the NCAA Los Angeles Regional, hosted by UCLA at the Pauley Pavilion. On March 29, the team competed in its final meet, taking home second place against MRGC rival Boise State, with a final score of 196.125.
Despite losing to the Broncos on day one of regionals, four BYU gymnasts qualified as individual competitors for the second day of competition. Benson, Alvarado, Rollins and Eaquinto represented BYU as Stanford, UCLA, Missouri and Boise State battled for a chance to move on to Saturday’s regional final.
For the season as a whole individually, Benson and Eaquinto earned the highest individual vault score of 9.900 for the Cougars. Bramblett led the team on bars with a 9.950 to tie the second-highest bars score at BYU. On beam, Rollins earned a 9.975 for the second year in a row to tie the second-highest score on record for the program. Ripley and Dudley each earned individual scores of 9.925 with their floor routines for the highest scores of 2023 on the apparatus.