Cougar Gymnasts Battle Adversity to Score Big
PROVO -- The Marriott Center magic was in full force Friday night as the BYU gymnastics team posted its second-highest score of the year at 192.575 in quad-meet competition. Despite losing junior co-captain Megan Donehue to injury during warm-ups, the Cougars stepped up and scored big, finishing second behind No. 28 San Jose State and ahead of Boise State and No. 37 Utah State.
“This team works extremely hard,” said BYU head coach Brad Cattermole. “Everyone had to step up and give us something and they did. The silver lining to all this is that this team is going to be really seasoned. We’re just going to keep giving it our best shot.
BYU began the night on the vault with solid results, posting its second-highest score of the year at 48.350. Junior Danielle Goldman tallied a season-high 9.750 along with freshman Krysten Koval to pace BYU. Fellow freshmen Jennifer Lezeu (9.600) and Mickell Merrell (9.575) recorded career highs while freshman Kylie Gallacher made her career debut on the vault with a 9.400. With several strong performances, the Cougars found themselves in second place behind San Jose State after the first rotation.
The Cougars’ will to compete was powerfully displayed on the uneven bars as BYU battled through adversity to post their highest score of the year at 48.350. Injuries to Natalie Eyre and Holland Davis last week had already whittled down the BYU bars line-up to five gymnasts, making every score count. The loss of Donehue meant the freshman Emiko Ono made her career bars debut, posting a 9.525 to help her team. Sophomore Madeleine Johnson led the team with a 9.800 while Koval contributed a career-high 9.650 to help the Cougars maintain their hold on second place, just .150 points behind SJSU.
“Emiko really got thrown into the fire,” said Cattermole. “She wasn’t ready to do a bars routing and was scared to death. But she got up there and hit her routine. She found a way and did an exceptional job.”
“There was a lot of emotions going through my mind, but mostly I was excited,” said Ono. “When it was all over, it felt really good. I was very happy.”
Three career highs on the balance beam helped BYU maintain its momentum. Kaylee Gallup turned in the high score of the event with a 9.800, tying her personal best. Jessica Villegas posted a career-high 9.700 while Johnson made her season debut on the apparatus with a 9.700. Overall, the Cougars turned in a team score of 48.025. However, Boise State scored big on its third rotation to push BYU to third place heading into the final rotation.
With just one rotation left, the Cougars were in sight of their highest score of the year. However, the energy was perhaps a little too high for BYU as three gymnasts were penalized for stepping out of bounds. Johnson notched a personal-best 9.775 and Villegas tied her career high with a 9.700 to equal a team score of 47.850.
BYU will once again be competing at home next week as the Cougars take on Southern Utah on Friday night at 7 p.m. The meet will be held in the Smith Fieldhouse and will be televised live on BYUTV.