Season Review: BYU reaches new heights in 2020

Natalie Orr | Posted: 8 Mar 2021 | Updated: 8 Mar 2021
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BYU prepares to face Denver University

PROVO, Utah – The BYU gymnastics team finished as the No. 16 team in the nation in 2020 to earn the program’s highest final national ranking in 15 years. The 2020 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference champions boasted numerous highlights throughout the season before its abrupt end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming off a strong 2019 season when the Cougars finished ranked 21st in the nation, the 2020 team pushed to new heights with a 196.228 average and a 196.500 National Qualifying Score (NQS) to jump six spots is the national rankings. Included in their scores, the Cougars earned their highest meet total since 2004, a 197.075, on the road against Southern Utah. 

“On our bucket list this season was wanting to become conference champs, and I’m proud of the contributions of everyone on the team in making that happen,” BYU head coach Guard Young said. “Of course, we would have liked to been able to have the MRGC meet, but this is an honor recognizing that our body of work stood above everybody this year in a very competitive conference. We did some great things this year and this is a program that is continuing to get better year after year. We have big, lofty goals." 

At the end of last season, Young earned MRGC Coach of the Year honors after his team's improved performance. He and his team carried that momentum into 2020, where Young helped guide the Cougars to a 10-3 record that featured a six-meet winning streak and a 7-1 mark in dual meets. In so doing, BYU defeated each conference foe twice during the season while earning a 6-1 league record on its way to the MRGC title. 

SEASON HONORS

The team's consistently strong scores propelled BYU to finish atop the MRGC and be named 2020 conference champions. It marked the first conference title for the Cougars since the establishment of the MRGC in 2016. Historically, the MRGC champion would be crowned at the annual conference championship, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancelation of the annual meet. The 2020 conference champion was determined by the final regular-season NQS recorded by the members of the conference.

Standout athletes for BYU in 2020 included junior Abbey Miner, who made her all-around debut this season. She earned the MRGC Gymnast of the Week title for four consecutive weeks, achieving a career-high score of 39.375. She earned first-team all-conference honors in the all-around as the No. 1 all-around performer in the conference.  On top of this, she was named All-MRGC Vault First Team and second-team All-MRGC for her performances on beam and floor.

“Abbey Miner should be commended for what she has accomplished,” Young said. “She has worked extremely hard every year from being on one event as a freshman to now as a junior becoming the highest ranked all-around gymnast in the conference. Sadie was the MRGC’s top vaulter and we had six in all that earned all-conference awards. BYU was well represented in our fun and competitive league where fans can really come and see some great gymnastics." 

Sophomore Sadie Miner took home MRGC Vault Specialist of the Year, along with second-team All-MRGC on floor. Other second-team honorees include junior Avery Bennett (vault) and sophomore Brittney Vitkauskas (floor).

BYU's 2020 All-MRGC Athletes

  • Abbey Miner: First-team all-around & floor, second-team vault & beam
  • Sadie Miner: Vault Specialist of the Year, first-team vault, second-team floor
  • Abby Stainton: First-team bars
  • Haley Pitou: Second-team bars
  • Avery Bennett: Second-team vault
  • Brittney Vitkauskas: Second-team floor

The American Athletic, Inc. (AAI) also announced the nomination of BYU All-American senior Shannon Evans for the 2020 AAI Award given to the most outstanding senior female gymnast in the nation. Evans was one of the 33 nominees up for the AAI Award, which is comparable to the Heisman Trophy of women’s gymnastics and has been around for more than 30 years.

    BYU gymnasts also received 13 different weekly MRGC awards during the 2020 season as the Cougars proved consistently strong throughout the season. Evans, Abby Miner, Sadie Miner, junior Helody Cyrenne and sophomore Jordan Danbury Matthews were each honorees during the season. Abbey Miner was honored six times in all, while Evans garnered four awards despite being unable to compete fully during the season due to injury.   

    BYU's 2020 MRGC Weekly Award Winners

    WEEK 1

    WEEK 2

    WEEK 3

    WEEK 4

    WEEK 5

    WEEK 6

    WEEK 9

    • Vault Specialist of the Week: Jordan Danbury Matthews, BYU (9.900)

    SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

    Compiling a No. 16 ranking overall, BYU also finished the season with strong apparatus rankings: No. 13 on floor, No. 15 on vault, No. 20 on beam and No. 26 on bars. In their season opener on Jan. 6, the Cougars came out swinging when they took down Nebraska, who was ranked as No. 15 at the time, 195.750-195.600. 

    Less than a week later on Jan. 11, BYU contributed to history-in-the-making by participating in the first-ever Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics Meet. All NCAA Utah gymnastics teams—BYU, University of Utah, Utah State and Southern Utah— faced off at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah, in a podium meet. The Cougars placed second in the competition behind then No. 4 Utah and BYU’s Abbey Miner walked away with the all-around title while her younger sister Sadie Miner won on vault. 

    BYU topped 197 to earn its highest score of the season against Southern Utah on Jan. 24, and also achieved its second-highest beam score in program history, a 49.525.

    Further in the season, another notable win occurred on Feb. 22, when BYU upset Denver, No. 5 at the time, winning on the Pioneer's turf 196.200-195.175. BYU also faced then No. 5 UCLA in Provo earlier in the season, as the Cougars competed against a strong schedule in 2020. BYU earned a ranking as high as No. 15 during the season.

    For the season as a whole individually, Sadie Miner and sophomore Jordan Danbury Matthews earned the highest score on vault, a 9.900. Evans claimed the top score on bars, scoring a 9.950. On beam, Abbey Miner and junior Abby Stainton earned 9.950 on beam. Lastly, Abbey Miner, Sadie Miner, Evans, and Vitkauskas all earned 9.900 on floor.

    Select the following link to see recaps and results from each meet during the 2020 season. Follow BYU Gymnastics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to receive regular updates leading up to the 2021 season.

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