USU gymnastics: Aggies struggle early, finish strong at regionals
Fayetteville, Ark. • Reaching the NCAA Gymnastics Regional Championships for the first time since 2007 was an achievement for Utah State's rebuilding gymnastics program.
Unfortunately, the pressure of the occasion was too much for the Aggies as they suffered four falls from the uneven bars to open the meet.
The Aggies, who were the fifth seed, knew they needed to have their best meet of the year and have the favorites crumble for them to snag one of the top two spots.
There was no such drama for the Aggies though as they suffered five major breaks on the uneven bars to score just 46.3 en route to a 191.875. Utah won the meet with a 197.3.
"It felt like it was such a huge achievement to get here, once they got here they didn't know what to do," said USU's first-year coach Nadalie Walsh. "I think they were overwhelmed by it all."
The only USU gymnast who survived without a big issue on the uneven bars was Sarah Landes, who scored a 9.5.
While they knew advancing would be a tough challenge, the Aggies were hoping for a better showing after posting a 196.075 at the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships where they finished fifth.
The Aggies did show some mental toughness by bouncing back to finish strong.
They battled back with a 47.775 on the balance beam, led by Michelle Yasukochi's 9.775 and Charly Belliston's 9.675.
Floor proved to be one of the highlights for the team as the Aggies delivered a 49.075, highlighted by a 9.875 from Bailey McIntire and a 9.85 from Jones.
The Aggies ended their meet with a 48.725 on vault, led by 9.8s from Landes and McIntire.
"This team, I am proud of them for being here," Walsh said. "There is no shame in making it to the post-season and we fought through."
The bright spot for the Aggies is they return the majority of their gymnasts return since Paige Jones and Christina Nye are the only seniors on the roster.
"This really feels like it is the beginning," Walsh said. "It was a good experience and we will come back strong."