Natalie Orr | Posted: 18 Apr 2021 | Updated: 3 May 2021

Season Review: BYU Gymnastics continues to climb

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MRGC Champions

PROVO, Utah – The BYU gymnastics team finished up the 2021 season as the No. 19 team in the nation. Maintaining their title as the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Champions, the Cougars racked up new accolades and high scores for a season full of highlights.

The 2021 team pushed to new heights with a 196.656 average to improve upon the team's 196.228 average last season. The Cougars held a 393.419 National Qualifying Score (NQS), holding on to No. 11 in the nation for four consecutive weeks.

Included in their scores, the Cougars earned their highest meet total as a program since 2004, a 197.300, at home in the Marriott Center. 

"COVID-19 definitely did not help things, but I feel like we were a resilient team," head coach Guard Young said. "We proved that this year.”

The nation took notice at the success of the Cougars, as the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference awarded Young as the MRGC Coach of the Year. Further, assistant coach Natalie Broekman earned MRGC Assistant Coach of the Year. 

The honors did not cease, as the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association recognized BYU senior associate athletic director / senior woman administrator Liz Darger as Regional Administrator of the Year. Plus, the WCGA celebrated Broekman and Brogan Evanson as Regional Assistant Coaches of the Year. 

“This 2021 season just doesn’t happen,” Young said. “It takes an incredible team to put a magical season together, and, yes, 2021 was a magical year for us. From the tremendous support we get from Liz to the hours that Natalie and Brogan put into this team, I am truly grateful to be working alongside such selfless, wonderful people.”

Notable improvements included a conference record of 10-1 for the season, losing only once to MRGC-rival Boise State. Within the MRGC, BYU finished the season at the top, with Southern Utah following at No. 23, Boise State at No. 24 and Utah State at No. 25.

Wrapping up the season, BYU will say goodbye to five of its seniors: Abbey Miner-Alder, Avery Bennett, Jordan Danbury-Matthews, Abby Boden-Stainton and Angel Zhong.

“We saw great leadership amongst our seven seniors, who we are just going to miss tremendously,” Young said. “But, we’re so excited for them and for the future that they have. Some are going off to graduate school, others are getting jobs or moving across the country. Their futures are so bright. That’s the big picture.”

Seniors Helody Cyrenne and Haley Pitou will compete again next season, as the pair still has a year of eligibility. 

SEASON HONORS

With average tallies of 196.656, the Cougars dominated the MRGC, ranking No. 1 on every single apparatus. For the second consecutive year, the Cougars took home the title of MRGC Champions with a score of 196.925 on March 20 in Logan, Utah. Trailing BYU in a closely contested championship, then No. 19 Boise State came in second (196.725), followed by No. 21 Utah State (196.250) and No. 20 Southern Utah University (196.225). 

A BYU standout athlete included Alder who the MRGC awarded Gymnast of the Year and Co-Floor Specialist of the Year, alongside teammate Brittney Vitkauskas. Alder ranked as No. 10 in the nation on floor and earned the highest score of any Cougar this season, a 9.975. Additionally, she achieved a new career-high score in the all-around, a 39.525. This ranks as the 10th-highest score in program history.

The WCGA provided the cherry on top when they announced Alder as a regular-season All-American. With a NQS of 9.944 on the floor exercise, she became a second-team All-American on the event. 

BYU's 2021 All-MRGC Athletes
The following Cougars received the All-Conference accolades, according to their NQS score for the season. 

  • Abbey Miner-Alder: Gymnast of the Year, Floor Specialist of the Year, All-Around, Vault and Floor First Team,  Beam Second Team
  • Anyssa Alvarado: Bars First Team
  • Abby Beeston: Bars Second Team
  • Avery Bennett: Vault Second Team
  • Sophia McClelland: Beam Second Team
  • Elease Rollins: Beam First Team
  • Abby Boden-Stainton: Beam First Team, Bars Second Team
  • Brittney Vitkauskas: Floor Specialist of the Year, Floor First Team

BYU gymnasts also received 25 different weekly MRGC awards as the Cougars proved consistently strong throughout the season. Alder, Alvarado, Bennett, Allix Mason, McClelland, Rollins, Stainton and Vitkauskas were each honorees during the season. Alder was honored twelve times in all, followed by Stainton with six accolades.  

BYU's 2021 MRGC Weekly Award Winners

WEEK 1

  • Gymnast of the Week: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (39.275)
  • Vault Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (9.850)
  • Floor Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (9.900)

WEEK 2

  • Vault Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (9.825)

WEEK 3

  • Vault Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (9.875)
  • Co-Floor Specialist: Abbey Miner Alder, BYU (9.875)

WEEK 4

  • Co-Beam Specialist: Elease Rollins, BYU (9.900)
  • Co-Beam Specialist: Abby Boden-Stainton, BYU (9.900)

WEEK 5

  • Co-Floor Specialist: Abbey Miner Alder, BYU (9.900)

WEEK 6

  • Gymnast of the Week: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (39.500)
  • Vault Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (9.850)
  • Bars Specialist: Abby Boden-Stainton, BYU (9.925)
  • Beam Specialist: Abby Boden Stainton, BYU (9.900)
  • Floor Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder & Brittney Vitkauskas, BYU (9.925)

WEEK 7

  • Vault Specialist: Avery Bennett, BYU (9.900)
  • Beam Specialist: Sophia McClelland & Abby Boden Stainton, BYU (9.925)
  • Floor Specialist: Brittney Vitkauskas, BYU (9.925)

WEEK 8

  • Bars Specialist: Anyssa Alvarado, BYU (9.900)
  • Beam Specialist: Abby Boden Stainton, BYU (9.900)
  • Floor Specialist: Abbey Miner-Alder, BYU (9.975)

WEEK 9

  • Vault Specialist: Allix Mason, BYU (9.875)
  • Beam Specialist: Elease Rollins, BYU (9.925)
  • Floor Specialist: Brittney Vitkauskas, BYU (9.925)

WEEK 10

  • Gymnast of the Week: Abbey Miner-Alder (39.525)
  • Beam Specialist: Abby Boden Stainton, BYU (9.925)

SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

BYU achieved new heights this season and it showed in the rankings: No. 10 on floor, No. 11 on bars, No. 12 on beam and No. 19 on vault. The team opened the season at the second-annual Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics Meet, where it took home the silver with a score of 195.700. BYU’s overall score would only go up from there. 

On February 12, the Cougars broke 197.000 for the first time this season, notching a 197.075 against SUU in Cedar City, Utah. This score would be topped on March 11 when BYU hosted Senior Night in the Marriott Center, celebrating a 197.300 against the University of Denver. 

BYU’s bar swingers found their groove on the apparatus, racking up a 49.375 on three separate occasions this season. This tally is the eighth-highest bars score in program history.

Known for their crowd-pleasing routines on floor, the gymnasts never scored lower than a 49.175 on the exercise. A highlight included scoring a 49.600 against Utah State to earn the sixth-highest floor score in program history. 

Bringing the season to a close, No. 12 BYU accepted an invitation to the NCAA Morgantown Regionals in West Virginia. On April 2, the Cougars competed for the final time, earning third place with a score of 196.350.

During the competition, Alder performed a solid floor routine, earning a 9.900. This score, in addition to her NQS, qualified the senior for the NCAA Gymnastics Championships as an individual competitor. Alder is the first Cougar to qualify for the competition since 2018. In Fort Worth, Texas, on April 16, she performed her final routine for BYU, earning a 9.5875. 

For the season as a whole individually, Alder and Bennett earned the highest score on vault, a 9.900. Stainton led the team on bars and finished out her career with a new personal best, a 9.950. On beam, freshmen McClelland and Rollins notched impressive scores of 9.925. Lastly, Alder shined with her 9.975 on floor. 

As for right now, Young has his sights set on establishing new lineups for next season. 

“We have a lot of positions that need to be figured out for next year and that all begins in the summertime,” Young said. “The girls who take advantage of this time are going to be the ones who make lineups next year.”

Select the following link to see recaps and results from each meet during the 2021 season. Follow BYU Gymnastics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to receive regular updates leading up to the 2022 season.

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