Southern Utah University gymnastics will take their talents to California this week for a two-meet road trip ahead of their final home meet of the regular season. The road meets will feature a quad meet and the second of three showdowns with San Jose State University.
The Thunderbirds currently hold an 11-2 overall record and have secured a 5-1 conference record after last week’s lone conference loss of the season to Boise State University. The home meet against the Broncos marked a season-low 195.525 points for SUU due to falls on the beam. SUU’s current team National Qualifying Score of 196.620 slots them in at No. 19 of the 36 teams advancing to NCAA regionals.
While the well-rounded team ranks in the top 30 for each individual event, their overall beam and floor performances are particularly special, both ranking No. 17 in the nation. Fifth-year senior Karley McClain leads the Thunderbirds, standing at No. 19 all-around in the nation. Her floor routine is also highly acclaimed at No. 19.
SUU looks to bounce back from last week’s loss by taking first in the Sacramento State Quad Meet and beating San Jose State University one-on-one.
Sacramento State Quad Meet
On Friday, the third quad meet of SUU’s season will pit them against three California teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation: Sacramento State University, University of California, Davis and San Jose State.
Sacramento State will host the meet. They’re coming off a season high score of 195.725 against Air Force Academy. They currently sit at 3-8 overall and are ranked No. 53 in the nation. With a NQS of 9.840, fifth-year senior Amber Koeth’s performance on the beam is on par with McClain’s. Hornet gymnasts Emma Morgenthaler and Sarah Lutrel round out the team by being fluent in all events.
The Hornets lost to UC Davis in their season opener and have been defeated by SJSU twice this year. They have the home advantage, but it would take a huge performance to prove themselves and turn their season around.
UC Davis lost to SJSU last week for the second time this season. With a 7-5 overall record and a 2-5 conference record, the Aggies stand at No. 45 in the NCAA. Their 195.245 NQS would imply the Thunderbirds have nothing to fear in the meet, but a season high of 196.750 increases the threat level. UC Davis’s performance on the beam is the primary thing weighing them down since their other routines each rank in the top 36. Sophomore Keanna Abraham leads the Aggies, topping their scores for vault and floor.
If the Aggies execute routines to their highest potential, the Thunderbirds will have to watch out.
San Jose State
SUU will face the 7-1 Spartans in the quad meet, then duel them individually in San Jose, California, on Sunday. SJSU, undefeated in the MPSF, sits at the top of the conference, making the quad meet crucial. If they can manage to beat out the Aggies and Hornets, they can seal a spotless 8-0 conference record. The Spartans are clinging to their rank in NCAA regionals with the final tournament spot at No. 36, so each meet requires careful and expert execution.
San Jose State excels at their routines on the beam, averaging 49.139 as a team in the category. Junior Lauren Macpherson leads the team as an all-around, accompanied in skill by fellow all-around Jaudi Lopes. Macpherson’s all-around NQS stands at 39.265 while Lopes closely follows with a 38.795. Senior Emma Milne, SJSU’s top performer on both the bars and the beam, poses a challenge to opponents as well.
The highest-ranking team the Thunderbirds will face, the Spartans will likely provide the most opposition in the quad meet and prove for a difficult solo matchup two days later.
SUU’s California road trip will begin on Friday, March 2, at 8 p.m. MST with the Sacramento State Quad Meet at Colberg Court. They will stay on the road for their Sunday, March 5, showdown with the Spartans at 3 p.m. MST in the Provident Credit Union Event Center. The quad meet can be viewed on ESPN+.
Story by: Kale Nelson
Photos by: Anden Garfield