BYU places second at the Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics Meet
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The No. 17 BYU gymnastics team racked up a 195.700 to earn second place at the second annual Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics Meet on Saturday at the Maverik Center.
Keeping its title, the University of Utah posted a 196.900 for the win. Utah State placed third at 194.350 and Southern Utah followed at 194.325.
This meet marks the second of a multi-year partnership between Rio Tinto and the Maverik Center. The two are contracted to host this meet for a minimum of five seasons. Luckily, the partners and universities made it happen with the COVID-19 circumstances.
“It’s been such a whirlwind preseason all around the country,” head coach Guard Young said. “Gymnastics is a precision sport that takes lots of repetitions and it keeps getting interrupted with COVID-19. Just the fact that four schools in the state of Utah can come out during opening week and put a meet together, it’s a miracle.”
BYU kicked off the meet by starting on the balance beam in the first rotation. Senior Abbey Miner-Alder led the team with a 9.800, followed with a 9.725 by fellow captain senior Abby Boden-Stainton. A highlight included a new face in the lineup, freshman Allix Mason. In her career debut performance, she earned a 9.425.
“Beam is a hard one to start on,” Young said. “It was good for a first meet, in terms of going out there and staying on the beam. No. 1 rule for beam is stay on it. They did that. You could tell that out of the six routines, not a single one of them was relaxed. They all fought and they all stayed on. It didn’t sink us.”
Additionally, senior Angel Zhong returned to the apparatus for the first time since 2019, now fully recovered from an Achilles tear. With a total score of 48.450, the Cougars ended the rotation in fourth, trailing Utah State by .025.
In the second rotation, BYU found its groove on the floor with all athletes scoring 9.800 or higher. Alder continued to lead the team with a meet-high floor score of 9.900, followed up by Stainton tying her career-high score of 9.875. Senior Jordan Danbury-Matthews notched a 9.800, her first official floor score of her BYU career. A 49.275 score on floor boosted the Cougars into second place, trailing Utah by .650.
“To come over to the floor right after beam and bring that energy up, it was fantastic,” Young said. “I believe Brogan Evanson is one of the best floor choreographers in the country. We’re really lucky to have her talent in that field.”
BYU took to the vault in rotation three, earning a 48.900. Alder continued to shine with a rotation high of 9.850. Zhong and Mason made their second appearance, both pulling a 9.775. The Cougars maintain their second place standing, widening the gap over Utah State 146.625-146.375.
“My kudos go to Angel Zhong this year,” Young said. “A year ago she tore her Achilles. And, to come back and be solid on three events is pretty remarkable to see from a young lady.”
The pressure remained throughout the fourth rotation as BYU tackled the uneven bars. Sophomore Anyssa Alvarado, senior Haley Pitou and Stainton all earned a score of 9.825. BYU finished with a solid 49.075, earning a final score of 195.700.
Utah’s Cristal Isa came out on top in the All-Around competition, leading with an impressive 39.400. Another Ute, Maile O’ Keefe, followed in second with a close 39.375. BYU’s Alder placed third in the all-around, earning a 39.275, in addition to MVP for the Cougars.
“Abbey won this event last year,” Young said. “I think she did a good job of going out there and representing BYU.”
Assuming both teams stay healthy, BYU hits the road again for a meet against Arizona State University on Saturday, Jan. 16 in Tempe, AZ.
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