WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Utah State’s 26th-ranked gymnastics team opened its 2022 campaign by placing second out of four teams at the third-annual Rio Tinto Best of Utah Meet on Friday night at the Maverik Center.
No. 4 Utah won the meet with a 197.100, followed by the Aggies with a 195.875. No. 19 BYU took third with a 195.225, while No. 25 Southern Utah finished fourth with a 195.00.
“We had a lot of moving parts coming into this meet,” said fifth-year Utah State head coach Amy Smith. “I could not be more thrilled with what we just did out there. It was incredible. Going into the meet, we just tried to take all of the pressure off of them and told them to control the controllables, which is their attitude and the energy on the floor.
“I’m just proud of the team. I’m proud of what they went out there and did. They did what we asked them to do. It wasn’t perfect, but they battled through and kept the energy up. I’m really excited about this year and this team.”
Utah State’s score of 195.875 is the highest season-opening score in the history of the program, easily surpassing the 194.600 it scored at the Pittsburgh quad meet in 2019.
“It’s good to see that all of our work from the preseason paid off,” said freshman all-arounder Brie Clark. “It’s just amazing, and it’s only up from here. It is great that we started off on such a high that you can build from.”
Junior Rebecca Wells won the all-around with a 39.125, bettering the 38.950 turned in by Utah freshman Grace McCallum, who was a member of the silver medal-winning 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.
“This meet was super fun,” Wells said. “As a team, we all went out there and did our job. This was the first year that everything came together at the first meet. I’m super excited to see us continue to build this year. My individual performance felt pretty good. I still have a lot of things to work on, but, overall, it’s coming together.”
Of the seven freshmen on the roster, four of them made their debut for the Aggies (2-1, 2-0 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference) on Friday, including Clark, who helped cap the meet for USU by wining the floor title with a 9.925, which is tied for 17th all-time in school history.
“It was so much being out there,” Clark said. “The energy was so high and it was so much fun. After we did vault, it just got more fun and more energetic. We just built on that. On floor, I just remembered to stay calm and put myself into autopilot, because all of our work in preseason to now prepared us for this moment. It’s just stay in the moment and have fun.”
Utah State started the meet off with a solid 48.825 on vault as each gymnast in the lineup hit. Competing on the event for the first time in her career, sophomore Eve Jackson led the Aggies in the sixth spot with a 9.800 to tie for seventh.
Moving to bars in the second rotation, Utah State finished with a 48.850 on the event as sophomore Brianna Brooks tied for third with a 9.850.
In the third and fourth rotations, the Aggies recorded a 49.100 on both beam and floor. Junior Sofi Sullivan and freshman Kielyn McCright each had a 9.850 to tie for sixth on beam.
Closing the meet on floor, Clark led the way for Utah State with her near-flawless performance, while junior Ariel Toomey tied for fourth with a 9.850 and freshman Trinity Brown tied for sixth with a 9.825.
“The freshmen stepping up tonight was amazing,” Wells said. “They went out and did their best. They did their normal work and it showed.”
Utah State is slated to welcome Air Force to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Friday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m., for its home opener. The Aggies lead the overall series with the Falcons, 13-1.
Team Results: 1. Utah – 197.100 (vault: 49.325, bars: 49.225, beam: 49.375, floor: 49.175); 2. Utah State – 195.875 (vault: 48.825, bars: 48.850, beam: 49.100, floor: 49.100); 3. BYU – 195.225 (vault: 48.575, bars: 49.000, beam: 48.875, floor: 48.775); 4. Southern Utah – 195.000 (vault: 48.950, bars: 49.125, beam: 48.350, floor: 48.575).
Vault: T1. Jaedyn Rucker – UU, 9.900; T1. Grace McCallum – UU, 9.900; 3. Cammy Hall – UU, 9.875; 4. Alexia Burch – UU, 9.850; T5. Morgan Alfaro – SUU, 9.825; T5. Kayla Horton – SUU, 9.825; T7. Eve Jackson – USU, 9.800; T13. Trinity Brown – USU, 9.775; T13. Brie Clark – USU, 9.775; T15. Rebecca Wells – USU, 9.750; T19. Angel Stuart – USU, 9.725; 21. Brianna Brooks – USU, 9.700.
Bars: T1. Cristal Isa – UU, 9.875; T1. Maile O’Keefe – UU, 9.875; T3. Brianna Brooks – USU, 9.850; T3. Hannah Nipp – SUU, 9.850; T3. Shylen Murakami – SUU, 9.850; T3. Abby Paulson – UU, 9.850; T15. Rebecca Wells – USU, 9.775; T15. Eve Jackson – USU, 9.775; T20. Jessica Gutierrez – USU, 9.725; T20. Maia Fishwick – USU, 9.725; 24. Amari Evans – USU, 9.000.
Beam: 1. Cristal Isa – UU, 9.900; T2. Amelie Morgan – UU, 9.875; T2. Grace McCallum – UU, 9.875; T2. Kara Eaker – UU, 9.875; T2. Eliza Millar – BYU – 9.875; T6. Sofi Sullivan – USU, 9.850; T6. Kielyn McCright – USU, 9.850; 11. Brianna Brooks – USU, 9.825; 12. Rebecca Wells – USU, 9.800; T13. Carley Bayles – 9.775; 20. Brie Clark – USU, 9.600.
Floor: 1. Brie Clark – USU, 9.925; T2. Abby Paulson – UU, 9.875; T2. Brittney Vitkauskas – BYU, 9.875; T4. Ariel Toomey – USU, 9.850; T4. Grace McCallum – UU, 9.850; T6. Trinity Brown – USU, 9.825; T9. Rebecca Wells – USU, 9.800; T15. Jessica Gutierrez, 9.700; T19. Eve Jackson – USU, 9.650.
All-Around: 1. Rebecca Wells – USU, 39.125; 2. Grace McCallum – UU, 38.950.