It’s the day before a big meet, and the UC Davis women’s gymnastics team gathers in the team room. Anticipation inherent in their faces, the Aggies close their eyes, slow their breathing and relax. Using a tactic that many athletes and performers swear by, the Aggies run through each of their events, step by step, in their minds.
“We turn off the lights, and we visualize ourselves doing the whole meet, each event, and how we want to do,” explains senior co-captain Tiana Montell.
Whether the event is vault, bars, beam or floor, things seem to be working out just as imagined for the Aggies, who started the new year off with 1st and 2nd-place finishes in their first two meets earlier this month. Running off of high energy and momentum from their performances in Seattle Pacific and at home in the NorCal Classic, senior captains of the team optimistically look forward to even greater results this season.
“[This year] we’re shooting for 9.8 routines,” said senior co-captain Lisa Wiktorski. “It’s a big goal for UC Davis gymnastics. I don’t think that’s ever been one of our main goals, but now we can see ourselves doing that.”
UC Davis gymnastics is currently ranked an impressive 30th in the nation for collegiate gymnastics. The Aggies rank 29th overall on vault, 23rd in the nation on bars, 26th on beam and 40th on floor.
Led by head coach John Lavallee, the Aggies find motivation and enthusiasm easy to come by.
“I told the team what I’ve told a lot of my teams: throughout the course of your life, you will be presented with some opportunities. What you do with those opportunities is on you,” said Lavallee.
The gymnastics team has already been presented with opportunities to show the UC Davis campus how good they are, seeing higher crowds than normal.
“In our first meet, we had a huge crowd! Almost the biggest crowd UC Davis gymnastics has ever had. We did really well especially for the first meet,” said Wiktorski.
The Aggies look forward to an even bigger crowd turnout of about 15,000 at the Huntsman Center, where they face Boise State and Southern Utah on Friday, Jan. 16.
“This is what we work hard for, to compete at the highest level and show what we’re capable of doing,” said Lavallee.
The next gymnastics meet at UC Davis will be on Feb. 8 against George Washington University.