The Southern Utah University Flippin’ Birds came up short against Brigham Young University Friday night in Cedar City, losing by a score of 197.075-196.550.
SUU falls to 3-5 on the season, with the last two losses coming at the hands of the Cougars.
“Right now we’re just trying to be a little too perfect at everything,” head coach Scott Bauman said in a press conference after the meet. “We’re just making silly mistakes here and there and we’ve got to get better at it.”
SUU opened on the vault while BYU tackled the uneven parallel bars. The T-Birds struggled initially and only had two scores above 9.775.
Morgan Alfaro continued her strong senior year in vault scoring a 9.850, but Molly Jozwiakowski struggled to anchor the event for the T-Birds and scored a 9.225 in her first vault since Jan. 29.
BYU remained steady on the bars, with Abby Stainton scoring a meet high 9.925. Stainton was followed by Abby Beeston and Anyssa Alvarado, who both scored 9.875.
Nikki Thomas led SUU off on the bars and scored a career high 9.900.
“[Coach] always told me I was capable of a 9.900 score,” Thomas said. “I never believed him until tonight. I’m just going to keep pushing to get a higher score.”
Shylen Murakami also scored a 9.900 on the bars, while Karley McClain and Hannah Nipp scored a 9.825 and a 9.800, respectively.
BYU struggled to find a rhythm on the vault, posting scores as low as 9.700. With SUU’s strong performance on the bars and BYU’s miscues on vault, it looked for just a moment that the Flippin’ Birds could erase the early deficit.
The Cougars moved to the floor routine, and Rachel Bain stumbled scoring just a 9.150. SUU’s chances to erase the BYU lead completely looked promising, until BYU pounded out two 9.875 scores and two 9.925 scores on the floor.
SUU struggled to keep up on the balance beam. Nipp and Aubri Schwartze led the way with 9.875 each, but McClain and Rachel Smith both scored just 9.775. The third rotation ended with SUU down again by almost half a point.
Hailey Vultaggio scored a 9.825 on her lone event of the night for the T-Birds, while Schwartze and Jozwiakowski both posted 9.900’s on the floor. BYU responded well on the beam, however, scoring two 9.850s and one 9.875.
McClain dropped her first all-around score (39.225) since the Best of Utah back on Jan. 9, with Abbey Miner Alder scoring a 39.500.
Ultimately, for every punch SUU threw in their home gym, BYU had a better and stronger counter.
“We just need to get a bit more aggressive in practice,” Bauman said. “We need to learn how to build off [high scores] because we will follow a 9.900 with a not-so-great of a routine. I think if we can do that, that’s the only way we can rebound from a loss like this.”
The Flippin’ Birds will be back in action Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. for “Senior Night” against Utah State University. It will be the third time this season SUU has taken on USU and the first time at home in Cedar City.
Story by: Kelton Jacobsen
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletic Department Strategic Communications