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Flying high

By Emily Duke
On April 2, 2014

After four years competing on the Aggie gymnastics team, senior Paige Jones is graduating from USU with a degree in English with a creative writing emphasis.

“It’s tough,” Jones said. “It’s tough when you do a sport for so many years. I don’t remember my life before gymnastics basically, but it’s definitely time, and to have ended on this season is more than I could have asked for.”

Jones started competing when she was 6 years old in her home state of Missouri. She competed at Edge Gymnastics throughout high school and said her favorite event has always been vault.

Jones began at USU in 2011 and made her collegiate debut in all-around competition against Southern Utah, where she took fifth place with a score of 37.150. Jones continued to improve, ending her junior season with a career-best all-around score of 39.200.

In her senior season Jones no longer competed in all-around but focused on her top three events of vault, bars and floor. She received a career-high score in floor of 9.900 at the Mountain Ridge Gymnastics Championships and a career-high score of 9.925 on the vault at a quad meet in January.

Head coach Nadalie Walsh said Jones became a leader on the team this past year. She was a voice of calm before meets, often giving pep talks and reassuring the girls of their abilities.

“I feel like Paige has definitely made the team feel at ease by helping them know it’s just another meet,” Walsh said.

Jones said bringing three new coaches in really changed the atmosphere of the team this past season.

“We all just came together and decided that this is the year,” Jones said. “We’re going to embrace these new coaches and take what they have and learn from it.”

The team cheered for each other loudly at each meet, holding up signs and running to high five and hug each other after each performance. Jones said the amount of trust and love that the athletes show for each other is unique to this season.

“Nadalie has brought this team atmosphere and this family atmosphere to the program and taught us to be together as one, love each other as a team, address your problems and be very up-front, and it’s really helped us out this year,” Jones said.

Now that she has completed her four years at USU, Jones plans to go home and spend a couple of years figuring out what to do next.

“As of right now, I’m going back to Kansas City,” Jones said. “I’m going to take a year and hopefully get some internship experience or some minor work experience.”

Jones said she enjoyed her time at USU and is excited for the road ahead.

“I’ve had an amazing four years here. I’ve met so many great people and have learned from every single person,” she said. “The atmosphere in Utah and in Logan is just so welcoming and friendly, and I’ve felt that every year that I’ve been here.”

Twitter: @emily_seamqueen

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