LOGAN, Utah – Utah State’s 11th-ranked gymnastics team opened the home portion of its schedule with a 194.950-191.975 victory over Air Force in front of 1,434 fans on Friday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
After just two meets, the Aggies (3-1) are off to their best start yet under fifth-year head coach Amy Smith. This is also Utah State’s best start to a season since opening the 2017 campaign at 4-1.
“We’re going to be a great team,” Smith said. “We’re still trying to figure stuff out. We got thrown a little curveball very quickly and unexpectedly with the COVID protocols, but we did our best in managing that. Like I said, we are going to be great, we just have to get some lineup things figured out. I am just excited that we closed the meet off strong like we did.”
The Aggies enjoyed a strong night with seven gymnasts setting career highs and tying one personal best. Utah State won all four events, while Genevieve Sabado won the all-around for Air Force (0-1) with a 38.475.
Utah State did not compete an all-arounder as junior Rebecca Wells was out due to COVID protocols, as was junior floor specialist Ariel Toomey. Wells won the all-around at the season-opening Rio Tinto Best of Utah meet.
Brie Clark won floor for the second-straight meet with a personal-best 9.950, which is tied for third all-time in school history. One of the judges even flashed a perfect 10 for the freshman Daphne, Alabama.
Sophomore Angel Stuart shared the vault title with freshman Trinity Brown as the Aggie duo each had a career-high 9.850. Sophomore Eve Jackson captured the bars crown with a personal-best 9.900, while junior Sofi Sullivan won beam with a season-best 9.875.
With Wells out, that left the door open for Sullivan to also compete on bars for the first time this season and the native of Manhattan Beach, California, made the most of her opportunity by placing third with a 9.850.
“It was really exciting,” said Sullivan, who opted out of the 2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I actually thought I was going to exhibition on the event, but then I got thrown in there and I just did what I did in practice. I am just super excited to be back.”
The Aggies opened with a 48.375 on vault. Freshman Molly Arnold made her Utah State debut on the event and was given a 9.800 to place third. Arnold also tied for fourth on bars with a 9.775.
“With this being our first home meet, I think we did pretty good considering it’s the beginning of the season,” Arnold said. “There are still some areas we can improve on, but overall, we did a pretty good job. I am really proud of myself for how I did. I usually get pretty nervous for meets, but this meet I was super confident and felt ready to go. I did the best I could for it being the beginning of the season.”
Utah State set a season high of 49.175 on bars in the second rotation. Following Jackson’s 9.900 on the event, sophomore Brianna Brooks placed second with a career-high-tying 9.875, Sullivan was third and Arnold tied for fourth with junior Jessica Gutierrez.
Missing Wells on beam in the third rotation, the Aggies had to count a fall as they scored a 48.325. Sullivan was first and freshman Kielyn McCright was second with a 9.800.
Utah State closed the meet strong on floor by scoring a 49.075, highlighted by Clark’s jaw-dropping performance. Jackson was second with a 9.825 and freshman Amari Evans was third with a career-best 9.800.
“The meet went really well,” Sullivan said. “Our student section really brought the energy and that helped fuel us throughout the meet. We had a couple mishaps, but our freshmen are amazing this year and we’re a really great team. We had some mishaps tonight, but overall, we were able to bring the energy back from the mishaps that we had. I’m happy with tonight.”
The Aggies debuted their Spectrum Magic leos against the Falcons, which seemed to be a hit.
“It was really fun,” Arnold said. “There were a lot more people here than I thought there would be, so that was pretty cool. I really like our new Spectrum Magic leo. It’s different, but I really like it, and it stands out..
Utah State returns to action on Friday, Jan. 21, when the Aggies return to the Spectrum and welcome Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference-rival Boise State. The dual meet is set to start at 7 p.m.
For more information on the Utah State gymnastics program, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @USUGymnastics, on Facebook at UtahStateGymnastics and on Instagram at USUGymnastics.
Air Force at No. 11 Utah State – Logan, Utah – Dee Glen Smith Spectrum – January 14, 2022
Team Results: 1. Utah State –194.950 (vault: 48.375, bars: 49.175, beam: 48.325, floor: 49.075); 2. Air Force – 191.975 (vault: 47.925, bars: 46.875, beam: 48.800, floor: 48.375).
Vault: T1. Trinity Brown – USU, 9.825; T1. Angel Stuart – USU, 9.825; 3. Molly Arnold – USU, 9.800; 4. Brie Clark – USU, 9.750; 10. Eve Jackson – USU, 9.175; 11. Brianna Brooks – USU, 9.125.
Bars: 1. Eve Jackson – USU, 9.900; 2. Brianna Brooks – USU, 9.875; 3. Sofi Sullivan – USU, 9.850; T4. Jessica Gutierrez – USU, 9.775; T4. Molly Arnold – USU, 9.775; 11. Lexi Aragon – USU, 8.900.
Beam: 1. Sofi Sullivan – USU, 9.875; T2. Kielyn McCright – USU, 9.800; 7. Brianna Brooks – USU, 9.725; 9. Brie Clark – USU, 9.550; T10. Carley Bayles – USU, 9.375; T10. Lexi Aragon – USU, 9.375.
Floor: 1. Brie Clark – USU, 9.950; 2. Eve Jackson – USU, 9.825; 3. Amari Evans – USU, 9.800; T4. Jessica Gutierrez, 9.750; T4. Trinity Brown – USU, 9.750.
All-Around: 1. Genevieve Sabado – AFA, 38.475.