PROVO, Utah – Utah State’s gymnastics team recorded a season-high 194.850 as three gymnasts tied for individual event titles against No. 16 BYU in front of 5,285 fans – mostly children from various local elementary schools – at the Marriott Center on Friday.
The Cougars won the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference dual meet with a 196.450. BYU improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the league, while the Aggies fell to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in conference.
“We are moving up,” said second-year Utah State head coach Amy Smith. “I saw a lot of the stuff that we have been working on in practice get put in play today. I saw a lot of fight and some great performances. Overall, I am pleased with our how we competed today. I told the girls that we have more in us, though. This is not us tapping out, rather, we are starting to settle into the 2019 season, figuring out our lineups and getting that rhythm going. It is very exciting.”
Senior Madison Ward-Sessions tied for first on floor with a 9.900. The native of Rexburg, Idaho, now has 27 career titles to rank ninth all-time in school history and 17 career floor crowns, which ranks third all-time in school history and just two shy of tying the program record of 19 set by Michelle Pohl (1983-86).
“Madi had a great performance on floor,” Smith said.
Sophomore Autumn DeHarde tied for first on beam with a 9.900. It was the fifth beam crown of her career and eighth title overall.
“It is always great to compete against BYU,” said DeHarde, who also placed fifth on floor with a 9.850. “It is a friendly competition and we always look forward to competing against them every single year, especially back-to-back weekends. With all the kids in here today, it was crazy loud. We loved it and we took their energy and used it for ourselves.”
Fellow sophomore Logan Varnadore earned a personal-best 9.800 to tie for first on vault, capturing the first individual crown of her career.
“Logan Varnadore on vault, are you kidding me?” Smith said. “It is a new vault for her and we’re just so thrilled with what she is doing with it on that event.”
Said Varnadore: “It was really exciting for me. The energy in the building was so high and the kids really helped. Our team score is not exactly where we want to be, but it’s in the right direction, which is all we can ask for.”
BYU’s 196.450 was made up of a 48.850 on vault, a 49.000 on bars, a 49.275 on beam and a 49.325 on floor.
Utah State began the dual meet with a season-high 48.850 on bars, anchored by junior MaKayla Bullitt’s career-best 9.875 to place second. BYU’s Shannon Evans won the event with a 9.900. Freshman Grace Rojas tied for fourth with a personal-best 9.775, while sophomore Annie Beck also had a career high with a 9.750 to tie for seventh, along with sophomore teammate Leighton Varnadore.
“Seeing MaKayla Bullitt get a PR on bars was phenomenal. She does that every single day in practice,” Smith said. “To see her do it in competition was extraordinary and we’ve been waiting for it. I am really excited for her.”
Logan Varnadore’s 9.800 on vault in the second rotation helped the Aggies tally a 48.625 as a team. Ward-Sessions tied for fourth with a 9.775.
Utah State moved to floor in the third rotation and finished with a 48.850. After Ward-Sessions’ 9.900, DeHarde placed fifth with a 9.850 and Bullitt captured ninth with a career-high-tying 9.775.
The Aggies closed the meet out on beam and scored a 48.525, spearheaded by DeHarde’s 9.900.
Utah State will remain on the road next weekend for another MRGC dual meet, this time at Southern Utah on Friday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m., at the America First Event Center in Cedar City.
Utah State at No. 16 BYU – Provo, Utah – Marriott Center – Jan. 25, 2019
Team Results: 1. BYU – 196.450 (vault: 48.850, bars: 49.000, beam: 49.275, floor: 49.325); 2. Utah State – 194.850 (vault: 48.625, bars: 48.850, beam: 48.525, floor: 48.850).
Vault: T1. Logan Varnadore – USU, 9.800; T1. Rebekah Bean – BYU, 9.800; T1. Shannon Evans – BYU, 9.800; T4. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.775; T6. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.750; 9. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.675; T10. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.625; 12. Elle Golison – USU, 9.550.
Bars: 1. Shannon Evans – BYU, 9.900; 2. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.875; 3. Abby Boden – BYU, 9.800; T4. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.775; T7. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.750; T7. Annie Beck – USU, 9.750; 11. Madison Ward-Sessions, 9.700; 12. Maya Perez-Lugones – USU, 8.800.
Beam: T1. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.900; T1. Natasha Marsh – BYU, 9.900; 3. Abby Boden – BYU, 9.875; 8. Annie Beck – USU, 9.750; 9. Emily Briones – USU, 9.650; 10. Taylor Dittmar – USU, 9.625; 11. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.600; 12. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.200.
Floor: T1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.900; T1. Briana Pearson – BYU, 9.900; T1. Shannon Evans – BYU, 9.900; 5. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.850; 9. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.775; 10. Elle Golison – USU, 9.675; T11. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.650; T11. Faith Leary – USU, 9.650.
All-Around: 1. Shannon Evans – BYU, 39.425 (vault: 9.800, bars: 9.900, beam: 9.825, floor: 9.900); 2. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 38.775 (vault: 9.675, bars: 9.750, beam: 9.600, floor: 9.750); 3. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 38.575 (vault: 9.775, bars: 9.700, beam: 9.200, floor: 9.900).