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Aggies flip into 2013 action against BYU

staff writer

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 14:01


JOANNA CUBA performs a floor routine during the blue and white exhibition CURTIS RIPPLINGER photo


The season opener for the USU gymnastics team will be their chance to showcase new talent and increased confidence. 

The 2013 gymnastics season will begin 1 p.m. Friday at Brigham Young University. Head coach Jeff Richards said he is excited about the team’s progression this season and is eager to kickstart the official season.

“We’re just hoping to go out there and get our feet wet and realize the season’s here,” Richards said. “I think the girls are already excited. There’s not huge expectations. We’re coming out a little bit slow this year. We’re just trying to get out there and put things together.”

Richards and the rest of the team overcame several medical challenges early in the season. Though they only lost two seniors to graduation, gymnasts Amanda Watamaniuk, Samantha Wagner and Breyanna Aufiero were injured and will not compete this season. 

Watamaniuk injured her elbow at the end of last season and Aufiero tore her ACL just weeks before the Aggie Exhibition Tournament. Wagner has been battling scoliosis for years and underwent surgery in December. 

“We were hoping to get another year of beam out of her,” Richards said about Wagner. “But it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Challenges are eagerly accepted by the team and regardless of the injuries, the girls have high hopes for the future.

“Training was a little more rigorous this year, but in a good way,” senior Amelia Montoya said. “We’ve had our fair share of injuries, but like every gymnastics team, it’s expected.” 

Both Montoya and sophomore Sarah Landes are confident in their team, despite the young talent. 

“Our team is really good this year,” Montoya said. “We have a lot of freshman. It’s a lot of new talent. They’ve all stepped up to the plate and I’m excited to see what they do. We’re solid on all four events.” 

“We have a lot of potential,” Landes said. “So far, they’re stepping up to the challenge.”

Richards agreed with his athletes about the future potential of the team. 

“We’ve got some really great stuff happening,” Richards said. “Our freshmen have been really good. We’ve got Paige Jones, one of our upperclassman, that has been looking really good. Sarah Landes last year did really well. She’s a sophomore, she’s looking really good. We’ve got a couple of freshman, Kinzey Martinez, Hayley Sanzottii and Michelle Yasukochi that are on fire right now and looking really good.” 

Other than confidence in their team’s potential, Montoya and Landes are also excited about their team’s performance at the meet against BYU. 

“It’s fun to go out against your big rival at the beginning of the season,” Landes said.

“It’s our first meet and being a young team, you don’t know how the freshman are going to respond,” Montoya said. “But we put them under a lot of pressure in training and they do well. And I think that’s exactly what they’re going to do.” 



Twitter: @daniellekmanley

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