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Gymnasts conclude successful season under new coach

By Emily Duke
On April 3, 2014

“Lucky.”

That was the first word that came to the mind of Nadalie Walsh when she thought back about the success of her first season as head coach of the Utah State gymnastics team.

Walsh came to USU with a vision of building a strong gymnastics program that the school could get behind and be proud of. The Aggies have exceeded her expectations, Walsh said.

“I just feel really blessed,” Walsh said. “I’m just really blessed and thankful for all of the girls and all of the group effort that it took. I’m thankful that the vision that I had was clear and that everybody was in agreeance with it. I just feel really fortunate and, I guess, blessed.”

The Aggies ended their regular season meets on a streak of nine meets scoring above 194, and six meets above 195.

At the inaugural Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships, USU finished fifth with a season-best overall score of 196.075. Ending the season on a high note has been a huge confidence boost for the Aggies, but they are determined that they can continue to do even better, Walsh said.

In this first season with Walsh at the helm, the athletes have noticed a difference in the morale of the team.

“I think a lot of it has to do with our attitude at practice and when we go into meets,” said junior Sarah Landes. “We go into meets way more trusting and way more confident in everybody. Everybody’s routines have hit this year.”

The shift in attitude showed in the Aggies’ performances from day one. USU not only ended its season strong, but started it out at 4-0, the best starting record the Aggies have held in more than a decade.

USU defeated notable teams this season, including in-state rivals Brigham Young and Southern Utah, and had its first opening meet win since 2007.

"Positive energy and belief in our athletes is a big thing, just to come in and don't let any of them feel like they're not good enough,” Walsh said.

The confidence and trust continued to show throughout the season in the scores, with the Aggies breaking career and season bests at almost every meet.

Landes shined this season in the all-around competition, receiving a season-high score of 39.250 and setting new career high records on bars and floor, each with a 9.875.

Paige Jones, one of two seniors on the team, also competed well this year, recording new career high scores in floor with a 9.900 and vault with a 9.925.

With regionals just around the corner, the Aggies are enjoying their practices and training hard for the last performance in their record breaking year.

“We have had our highest score but we haven’t had our best performance yet, so I feel like the girls are really hungry to go out and actually have our best performance,” Walsh said. “We believe that we can peak at the right time, and it’s just about making sure that we put it all together on that day.”

mled94@gmail.com
Twitter: @emily_seamqueen

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