New Gymnasts on the Vault

Rachel Smith and Caitlin Kho are freshman for the Flipping’ Birds.

Rinse and repeat.

Every year college athletics programs lose amazing senior classes, and every year they bring in new freshmen that are expected to fill their shoes.

Rachel Smith and Caitlin Kho part of the “shoe filling” on the SUU gymnastics team. They stand out by bringing difficult 10.0 start-value vaults.

When the NCAA changed the difficulty level on this apparatus a few years ago, it left many teams scrambling. Suddenly, every prospective freshman who could vault became a hot commodity in recruiting.

Kho and Smith were recruited to bring their vault skills to the Flippin’ Birds, and they are working to live up to their high expectations.

In her first workout at SUU, Smith displayed a contagious energy. She was bubbly, goofy and spunky, which contributed to the positive practice environment. She also does more than just vault for the team. Her skills translate well to other events, as well.

Kho, on the other hand, was very focused and independent during her first team workouts. When the team was on floor, she would be on bars honing her skills. She is as quiet as she is powerful, but also has a lighter side.

“In club (gymnastics) you would just do you no matter what. (The coaches) will just be like, ‘You’re not ready? Well, still compete this routine,’” Smith explained. “But here, it’s like a team environment. You want to do well so the team does well, but it makes it more fun and more personable.”

Both athletes appear confident and ready to take on the season, despite all the changes freshmen face during the first year of college.

“I am most excited about going on the floor and just competing with all my teammates,” Kho said. “It will be super fun.”

Story by: Maddie Loomis
Photo by: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication