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Jones second, but Aggies fall to BYU

staff writer

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 15:01


SENIOR AMELIA MONTOYA performs a routine on the uneven bars during a meet last season. CURTIS RIPPLINGER photo


The Utah State University gymnastics team started the season against Brigham Young University in Provo on Saturday. Finishing with a score of 189.425, USU fell 4.65 points behind BYU’s winning score of 194.075. 

Junior Paige Jones finished second with 38.8 points and sophomore Sarah Landes finished third with 38.65. Both of them closely followed the leading score of 38.95 earned by Raquel Willman, who finished first for BYU.  

“I didn’t have super-high expectations because it was our first meet and we had a lot of freshman, but I expected our team to go out and do what we do in the gym,” Landes said. “I feel like for the most part we did that. Bars, we did that. Vault, we did that. Floor, we had a bit of an issue. We could do better on beam. We were all just shaky and wobbly. Overall, I thought we did a good job for our first meet.”

Head coach Jeff Richards understands as much as his athletes how rough a first meet could turn out.

“We were doing what we needed to do,” Richards said. “We were on track. You just never know how it’s going to go for your first meet.”

Despite high expectations and hard work, injuries are still consistently prevalent in gymnastics. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, more than 86,000 gymnastics-related injuries are treated in hospitals every year.

On Saturday, Michelle Yasukochi injured her ankle. She won’t be able to compete during the next meet. 

“We’re hopeful that with a little bit of rest she’ll be good to go,” Richards said. “She’s very crucial to our vault lineup. She’s one of our most consistent. We’ll see how it goes. She’s a tough kid.”

Despite Yasukochi’s injury and others from the preseason, the team is confident in their abilities for the next meet on Jan. 18 against Boise State University. 

“We are looking to get some girls back from other injuries,” Jones said. “Some of the other girls will be able to step it up. As a whole we’re trying to do what we did at BYU without the low score. We’re just looking to slowly increase those scores from BYU, focus on the details.”

Coach Richards realizes Yasukochi’s injury will affect the vault score, but hopes to be strong in the other three areas.

“We’re playing it by ear,” Richards said. “I’m not too sure. It’ll affect our vault a little bit. Beam and bars we should do well, depending on injuries.” 

Upon returning to Logan on Jan. 19, the team will host a free youth clinic. Boys and girls from ages 6 to 12 are welcome to sign up and the clinic will be held in the HPER building in room 211. 

“It’s a great thing to get the girls to interact with some community kids,” Richards said. “We had it last year and the girls really loved it. We’re doing it again this year. We limited the number to 60 kids. Our gym can accommodate about 60 kids. We kept it limited so the kids can have fun. It’s packed and it filled up really quick, we’re excited about that. Kids get in here and meet the girls. They’re good role models, good athletes.”

This is the second year the gymnastics team has held a youth clinic. 

“I’m really excited,” Landes said. “I love being able to work with little kids. It’s my love of gymnastics. It’s fun for me and my team. I’m really looking forward to it.”



Twitter: @daniellekmanley

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