Senior Bailey McIntire helped revitalize Utah State’s gymnastics program

LOGAN, Utah – When Bailey McIntire visited Cache Valley and the Utah State campus for the first time, she knew this was the place where she wanted to call home for the next four years.

“I came on an unofficial visit and I loved the mountains,” McIntire said. “I’m from Missouri, which is very flat. We have some hills, but not anything as pretty as this; it’s kind of boring. I loved the area and then I actually knew (former Aggies) Kristen Myers and Paige Jones because they were on my club team. They told me all these good things about Utah State, so I figured I would give it a try and it worked out really well.”

It sure has.

McIntire, now a senior on Utah State’s gymnastics team, has helped turn the Aggies from an afterthought into a perennial NCAA Regional Championships participant.

“As far as what she’s meant to the program, coming in as a new coach here four years ago and getting her as a freshman, it was a really great opportunity for her to jump on board with our philosophy, even though she was recruited by a different staff,” said USU head coach Nadalie Walsh. “She jumped right on board with our philosophy and has been there every step of the way with me, always believing that Utah State can be great. It’s really pleasing to know that she gets to be one of the seniors who sees all the fruit.”

Prior to the arrival of both McIntire and Walsh, the Aggies had just concluded a 5-14 season in 2013, marking the sixth straight year they had failed to advance to the NCAA Regional Championships.

But in Walsh’s debut as Utah State’s head coach and McIntire’s first career meet as a collegiate gymnast, the Aggies won a dual-meet season opener on the road for the first time since 1998, beating Iowa 191.750-191.650.

In that meet, McIntire captured her first-ever event title with a 9.850 on floor. She also tied for second on vault (9.800), placed fourth on bars (9.675), tied for sixth on beam (9.450) and took second in the all-around (38.750).

That was just a sign of things to come for McIntire and the Aggies.

“Bailey has been so fun to coach and it’s been awesome having her come in as a freshman and just rock out, and then hold that standard throughout her whole career,” Walsh said. “She has a very unassuming attitude and mentality, where she’s not prideful or arrogant, but she’s confident, and I love that about her. I love that her confidence doesn’t override her ability to stay humble, true to herself and a really good teammate.”

McIntire and the Aggies capped the 2014 campaign with a trip to the NCAA Regional Championships, where they placed sixth in the Fayetteville Regional.

Since then, they have competed in the Berkeley Regional, Salt Lake City Regional and are headed to the Seattle Regional this weekend.

“That is so exciting and I know the majority of the reason why we have made it the last four years is because we had a coaching change,” McIntire said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching change. Also, all of the seniors – me, Katie Brown, Hayley Sanzotti and Keri Peel – have really grown together and we’ve worked to help the program grow.

“In the summer, we worked out and did everything we needed to in order to show the other girls what we wanted the program to be like. It’s been super awesome to see it grow and to hear the stories from previous years, then come in and help turn everything around. It’s only going to go up from here.”

McIntire won seven floor titles as a freshman and has captured 11 in her career. Heading into this Saturday’s NCAA Regional Championships at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle, Wash., she has 25 career titles under her belt.

The native of Kearney, Mo., began competing in gymnastics when she was 3 years old. Now, she finds her name scattered all throughout the Utah State record books as she has recorded two of the top all-around scores in school history with a 39.425 to rank tied for sixth and a 39.400 to rank tied for ninth.

McIntire has also recorded three 9.900s on bars to rank 14th in school history on that event. She ranks fourth, sixth and 13th all-time with single-season floor averages of 9.848, 9.838 and 9.800, respectively. Her 2016 bars and beam averages of 9.775 and 9.719 are tied for ninth tied for 11th all-time.

The daughter of Darren and Cathy McIntire earned first-team all-Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference honors for her bars, beam and all-around performances at the 2016 Championships, to go along with a second-team accolade on vault in 2016 and on floor in 2014.

At the 2017 MRGC Championships, McIntire earned second-team all-conference on vault as she helped the Aggies place second as a team with a 196.100 – their highest finish in a conference championship meet since winning the WAC crown in 2005.

“When she came in as a freshman, she was obviously a very talented athlete, but she has worked really hard to be much cleaner and more refined than she was when she got here,” Walsh said. “She’s become a much better gymnast, so that’s just another tribute to her hard work and her love of the sport.

“She is one of those athletes that typically performs really well in competition. I’m going to miss her fishing reel on the floor routine a lot, because she has an ability to perform that exceeds everybody else and the crowd can’t wait to watch her when she gets out on the floor.”

McIntire, who is a two-time academic all-MRGC honoree and two-time USU Whitesides Scholar-Athlete recipient, is set to graduate in May with a degree in psychology and minor in criminal justice.

After graduating from Utah State, McIntire plans to enroll at Central Missouri (Warrensburg, Mo.), where she will pursue a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

“After that, I will be a licensed professional counselor,” McIntire said. “I’m thinking I want to work in a clinic with all different ages, but I’m not 100-percent positive yet.”

First things first, though. McIntire, whose career highs include 9.875 on vault, 9.900 on bars, 9.850 on beam, 9.900 on floor and 39.425 in the all-around, is looking to end her Utah State career on a high note this weekend in Seattle.

“It definitely went by super-fast, but it has been an amazing experience that I wouldn’t have gotten any other way,” she said. “I have grown a lot gymnastics-wise and outside of gymnastics, so it has been a really rewarding experience and I don’t regret one thing. I’ve loved it.”

And Walsh has loved coaching her.

“It’s actually really hard for me to picture coaching a Utah State program without Bailey McIntire,” Walsh said.

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