PROVO, Utah – Senior Madison Ward-Sessions won the individual floor title outright and placed fifth in the all-around to lead Utah State at the 2019 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships on Friday night at the Marriott Center.
The Aggies (5-13) posted a 193.800 team score to finish fourth. No. 13 Boise State captured the title with a 196.950, No. 24 Southern Utah (7-6) took second with a 195.900 and No. 15 BYU (11-8) placed third with a 195.750.
“The team went out and did what they could do,” said second-year Utah State head coach Amy Smith. “We’ve had a rough year and have been hit with injuries, almost weekly. They did a great job of somebody constantly stepping up and trying to fill those voids. Unfortunately, we got to the end of the year and we didn’t have anybody else to step up on beam. They did what they could do. They finished the meet strong and I’m proud of them for weathering the storm, getting through this and having a great attitude.”
Ward-Sessions was the lone gymnast to record a 9.900 or better on floor. The 9.925 on the event was her 21st career floor title to extend the school record she set last week against No. 2 UCLA. The native of Rexburg, Idaho, now has 38 career titles overall, which is tied for fifth all-time in program history, along with Julie Ryan (1986-88, 1991).
“I was excited to get the floor title,” Ward-Sessions said. “I was eying floor the whole time to see if anyone was doing good because I wanted it so bad. This year has been my best year yet and I felt so calm. I was happy about my floor performance tonight because I was feeling a little bit of doubt in the back of my mind.
“It was like I was on auto-pilot and my reflexes took in. I was happy about how floor turned out and the rest of the events, except for beam”
Ward-Sessions now has 16 titles this season, which ranks fourth all-time in senior class history.
“I’m really happy for Madi,” Smith said. “The attention she has gotten this year is fantastic. I wish more people would have known how great she was before this year. It is so cool to see her get that attention. She is phenomenal and her tumbling is like nothing else. It was a beautiful floor routine by her tonight.”
Following the meet, Ward-Sessions was tabbed the co-MRGC Floor Specialist of the Year.
Starting the championships on beam, Utah State scored a 47.150, led by sophomore Autumn DeHarde, who had a 9.850 to tie for eighth. The injury-plagued Aggies only had five competitors on beam and had to count two falls in their team score.
Utah State’s strongest event of the night was on floor, where the team posted a meet-high 49.150. For Ward-Sessions, she recorded a 9.925 or better for the sixth consecutive meet. DeHarde and fellow sophomore Leighton Varnadore each tied for second with matching 9.850s.
On vault in the third rotation, the Aggies went 48.700 as Ward-Sessions tied for fifth with a 9.825. Varnadore tied for seventh with a 9.800.
Utah State closed the meet on bars with a 48.775, highlighted by Ward-Sessions’ 9.850 to tie for sixth. Junior MaKayla Bullitt had a 9.825 to place 11th.
Competing for the final time in her Utah State career, senior Emily Briones tied for 11th on floor with a 9.775 and placed 20th on beam with a 9.625.
Varnadore finished fourth in the all-around with a 39.100, while Ward-Sessions took fifth with a 38.800.
The NCAA will announce regional qualifiers and locations on Monday, March 25.
Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics, on Facebook at Utah State Gymnastics, and on Instagram at USUGymnastics. Fans can also follow the USU athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at UtahStateAthletics.
Utah State at MRGC Championships – Provo, Utah – Marriott Center – March 22, 2019
Team Results: 1. Boise State – 196.950 (vault: 49.000; bars: 49.475; beam: 49.350; floor: 49.125); 2. Southern Utah – 195.900 (vault: 49.100; bars: 48.650; beam: 49.150; floor: 49.000); 3. BYU – 195.750 (vault: 48.00; bars: 49.025; beam: 49.200; floor: 48.625); 4. USU –193.775 (vault: 48.700; bars: 48.775; beam: 47.150; floor: 49.150).
Vault: 1. Morgan Alfaro – SUU, 9.900; 2. Karley McClain – SUU, 9.875; T3. Courtney McGregor – BSU, 9.850; T3. Sarah Means – BSU, 9.850; T5. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.825; T7. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.800; T17. Mikaela Meyer – USU, 9.725; T19. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.700; T22. Elle Golison – USU, 9.650; T22. Logan Varnadore – USU, 9.650.
Bars: 1. Alexis Stokes – BSU, 9.950; T2. Courtney McGregor – BSU, 9.925; T2. Emily Muhlenhaupt – BSU, 9.925; T6. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.850; 11. MaKayla Bullitt – USU, 9.825; 16. Annie Beck – USU, 9.725; 17. Madi Tueller – USU, 9.700; T18. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.675; 22. Logan Varnadore – USU, 9.100.
Beam: T1. Hannah Nipp – SUU, 9.900; T1. Isabella Amado – BSU – 9.900; T1. Helody Cyrenne – BYU – 9.900; T8. Autumn DeHarde –USU, 9.850; T15. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.800; 20. Emily Briones – USU, 9.625; 22. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.200; 23. Annie Beck – USU, 8.700.
Floor: 1. Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 9.925; T2. Courtney McGregor – BSU, 9.850; T2. Sarah Means – BSU, 9.850; T2. Alex Esmerian– BSU, 9.850; T2. Karley McClain – SUU, 9.850; T2. Autumn DeHarde – USU, 9.850; T2. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 9.850; T11. Emily Briones – USU, 9.775; T16. Faith Leary – USU, 9.750; T18. Elle Golison – USU, 9.700.
All-Around: 1. Courtney McGregor – BSU, 39.475 (vault: 9.850, bars: 9.925, beam: 9.850, floor: 9.850); 2. Sarah Means – BSU, 39.375 (vault: 9.850, bars: 9.800, beam: 9.875, floor: 9.850); 3. Shannon Evans – BYU, 39.225 (vault: 9.750, bars: 9.900, beam: 9.875, floor: 9.700); 4. Leighton Varnadore – USU, 39.225 (vault: 9.800, bars: 9.675, beam: 9.800, floor: 9.850); 4.
Madison Ward-Sessions – USU, 38.800 (vault: 9.825, bars: 9.850, beam: 9.200, floor: 9.925).