Utah State gymnastics tops Alaska Anchorage at home Friday

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State gymnastics returned to home competition Friday night, taking a dual-meet victory against Alaska Anchorage, defeating the Seawolves, 194.925-192.675.

“We had three good events tonight. We had a few things happen on beam, so we had to make some lineup changes. Overall, we had three good events, and beam will be back next week, ready to go. We wanted to do what we did last week again tonight,” said Utah State head coach Amy Smith. “Tonight was a good meet, it wasn’t a great meet. I think beam will be there next week and we can put a few more tenths back in on the other events, too, and punch back up to that 196 score.”

Utah State swept the individual event titles Friday, while Aggie gymnasts closed out the top three spots on all but one event. Freshman Grace Rojas took home the vault title with a career-best 9.800 and the first event win of her career. Junior MaKayla Bullitt also earned her first-career event win, taking the bars title with a 9.825. Sophomore Autumn DeHarde took the beam win with a 9.875, while senior Madison Ward-Sessions tied her career high of 9.925 to win the floor portion of the night. 

“Event wins are always nice. It’s a little bit of bragging rights,” Smith said. “It’s always great to see them do that, and I’m sure it boosts confidence.”

Ward-Sessions also claimed her third all-around win of the season with a 39.200. With her two event wins Friday, Ward-Sessions now has 34 career individual titles, which ties for sixth all-time in USU program history. 

Leighton Varnadore also competed in the all-around, posting a 39.150 to finish second. 

“The meet was pretty good. It wasn’t as good as last weekend, we still have some things to work on,” DeHarde said. “Overall we put together our routines and it ended up being a successful night.”

Utah State opened the night on vault, posting an overall score of 48.775. Rojas led the team with a career-best 9.800, followed by a 9.775 from sophomore Leighton Varnadore. Ward-Sessions posted a 9.725, while DeHarde and sophomore Logan Varnadore each added a 9.725.

Moving to bars, the Aggies recorded a 48.750. Two USU gymnasts recorded career highs on the event, with sophomore Annie Beck posting a 9.800 and junior Madi Tueller earning a 9.625. Bullitt led the Aggies with an event-best 9.825, while Leighton Varnadore posted a 9.775. 

On beam, Utah State combined to score a 48.400, led by DeHarde’s 9.875. Sophomore Taylor Dittmar matched her season high with a 9.775, just behind Ward-Sessions, who posted a 9.800. Wrapping up the event were Beck (9.750), Leighton Varnadore (9.725) and senior Emily Briones (9.225). 

The Aggies had a strong finish on floor, finishing with a 49.000, the second-best score on the event this season. Ward-Sessions led the way with her 9.925, while DeHarde and Leighton Varnadore each added a 9.875. The score was a season-best performance for DeHarde, while Varnadore set a career high. Golison followed with a 9.675 and Briones closed it out with a 9.650. 

“It was really cool to see the back end of the lineup finish out strong. I’m really proud of how they finished out the meet. I’m really proud of how the rest of the day went,” Smith said. “They kept battling and kept their energy up, and that’s all that we ask for.”

Alaska Anchorage posted its third-highest score of the season with a 192.675. The Seawolves went 47.800 on vault, 47.825 on bars, 48.775 on beam and 48.275 on floor. Alaska gymnasts finished second and third on beam with scores of 9.850 and 9.825. The Seawolves had one gymnast compete in the all-around, where Isabelle Fox finished third with a 38.650. 

Utah State returns to the road next week for a tri meet at No. 10 Boise State. The Aggies and Broncos will be joined by No. 18 Washington in the meet on Friday, March 1. 


Team Results: 1. Utah State – 194.925 (vault: 48.775, bars: 48.750, beam: 48.400 , floor: 49.000 ); 2. Alaska –192.675  (vault: 47.800, bars: 47.825, beam: 48.775 , floor: 48.275).


Vault: 1. Grace Rojas – USU, 9.800; 2. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.775; 3. Madison Ward-Sessions– USU, 9.750; T4. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.725; T4. Logan Varnadore – USU, 9.725; 7. Elle Golson – USU, 9.675


Bars: 1. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.825; 2. Annie Beck – USU, 9.800; 3. Leighton Varnadore– USU, 9.775; T4. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.725; T6. Madi Tueller – USU, 9.625; 9. Logan Varnadore – USU, 9.575


Beam: 1. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.875; 2. Sophia Hyderally – Alaska, 9.850; 3. Kaylin Mancari – Alaska, 9.825; 4. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.800; 5. Taylor Dittmar – USU, 9.775; T7. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.725; 10. Emily Briones – USU, 9.225; 12. Annie Beck – USU, 8.750


Floor: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.925; T2. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.875; T2. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.875; 7. Elle Golson – BSU, 9.675; 8. Emily Briones – BSU, 9.650; 9. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.600


All-Around: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 39.200 (vault: 9.750, bars: 9.725, beam: 9.800, floor: 9.925); 2. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 39.150 (vault: 9.775, bars: 9.775, beam: 9.725, floor: 9.875); 3. Isabelle Fox – Alaska, 38.650 (vault: 9.600, bars: 9.600, beam: 9.725, floor: 9.725).

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