It was home bittersweet home for the Utah State gymnastics team Friday at the Spectrum.
Performing in front of their home fans for just the second time this season, the Aggies notched a 193.575-193.200 victory over the Air Force Academy.
“It was bittersweet sort of,” USU head coach Jeff Richards said. “It’s great to have a win and hopefully the girls can build on that. We’re just not putting it all together. They’re confident in the gym, we’ve seen it and I really believe in this team. I know we’re a 195 team, but we’re just not being crisp or clean.”
All-around winner Sarah Landes was the most consistent performer for the Aggies, finishing with an all-around score of 39.150 — the only gymnast for either team to break the 39.0 mark.
“I had tallied up my scores going into floor, so I knew where I needed to get to beat my (season-high),“ Landes said. “I had a couple bobbles, but I was still able to pull out a good all-around score and the win, so I’m happy.”
It was the third time winning the all-around competition this season for Landes, a sophomore from Oklahoma. She’s also been the top overall performer at four of the Aggies’ five meets this season.
USU started strong with a team score of 48.825 on the vault, but struggled through the uneven bars and balance beam. Despite their second lowest scores of the season on the uneven bars, the Aggies stretched their lead over the Falcons through two rotations.
But a pair of falls on the balance beam allowed Air Force to close the gap.
“Beam has been our weakness,” Richards said. “We recruited beam workers. Joanna Cuba is normally a rock solid kid. She had a little injury at the beginning of the year with her elbow; we’re hoping she can get that confidence back.”
After Cuba and fellow freshman Stefanie Daley both faltered, a solid team performance on the floor resulted in a 145.250-145.200 lead for the Aggies heading into the final rotation.
“I knew it was close,” Richards said. “Coming into floor it shouldn’t make you nervous, but after our last home meet I was a little bit nervous. But we’ve been doing well on floor in practice. In practice Wednesday we had our last event be floor and told them it would be just like the meet.”
Fortunately for Utah State, five of the six floor performers scored 9.5 or higher, and Air Force struggled on the balance beam to allow the Aggies to escape with the win.
USU improved to 2-4 this season, and will hit the road for its longest road trip of the season. The three-game stretch beings Friday, Feb. 15, and includes a four-team meet against two Top 25 squads in Boise State and Denver on Feb. 23 in Colorado.
“We had a bit of a rough meet tonight, so we expect to go in next week, pull ourselves together and be able to hit a strong meet and build on this week,” Landes said.
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