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Springing into action: Aggie gymnasts set for season

staff writer

Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 23:01

Sarah landes

Statesman File Photo

Then-sophomore Sarah Landes performs on the floor exercise during a home meet last season.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Nadalie Walsh, the Utah State gymnastics team is anxious to begin its 2014 season. The Aggies kick off their season Saturday, Jan. 11 when they go up against Iowa on the road in their first meet.

“I feel like the team has really taken to the changes that we have brought,” Walsh said. “They’re motivated and happy and pretty healthy for the sport of gymnastics, so I feel really good going into this first meet. I think that they are definitely prepared.”

USU returns 13 letterwinners including three 2013 NCAA Regional participants in senior Paige Jones, junior Sarah Landes and sophomore Stephanie Daley. The Aggies also added five freshman for this season in Charly Belliston, Makayla Betz, Katie Brown, Bailey McIntire and Keri Peel, all of whom expected to compete and contribute to the season.

“We have a pretty big variety of who will be making the lineup on different events,” Walsh said.

“We have Sarah Landes and Bailey McIntire as all arounds for this first meet, and we feel really confident in those girls,” she said. “We have freshmen contributing and upperclassmen all across the board.”

USU gymnastics meets will flow like a typical meet, with the teams rotating between four events: uneven bars, vault, balance beam and floor exercises. The individual exercises are evaluated by judges and given a score out of 10 possible points, with all of the scores combining to provide the team’s overall score.

The Aggies placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference championship at the end of last season. USU will compete in the inaugural year of the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championship and have been picked in the preseason coaches poll to finish fifth. The MRGC is not officially recognized by the NCAA, but preparations are underway to have it official for the 2015 season.

“We are not in a conference this season. We’re working on that, but honestly, I feel like Utah State is a really great place,” Walsh said. “We have great athletes, and we have a ton of talent. Last year the students ended their season scoring in a 195, and I feel very confident that they can do that multiple times this year.”

USU gymnastics will host their first home meet against in-state rival BYU at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

“With the new culture of the Utah State gymnastics program the girls, they want to have a good time. They want the crowd to have fun. I have lot of giveaways, and we have things that we will be throwing into the audience,” Walsh said. “We want them to come and be loud and proud as they are when they go to a basketball game because gymnastics is pretty exciting, so come and feel the spirit students.”

Twitter: @emily_seamqueen 

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