Women’s gymnastics springs ahead of competition

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE

Aggies achieve seventh-straight win, gain momentum for upcoming MPSF Championships

The UC Davis women’s gymnastics team hosted a four-way meet on Friday, Feb. 24 from which they emerged triumphant after taking first-place honors in three of four events plus the all-around title. The meet featured four Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) conference competitors and could be considered a preview of the imminent championship meet on March 18, sans only two of the participating teams. The Aggies came out on top after scoring a collective 194.650 with San Jose State behind them at 193.900, followed by Sacramento State’s 193.250 and Seattle Pacific University’s 192.550.

The home team maintained an air of calmness and consistency throughout the meet; though the slightest of slip-ups occurred occasionally, the Aggies reigned for a majority of the meet. An unexpected fall on balance beam put the Aggies in second place for the first time in the meet after the third rotation, but a thrilling fourth rotation of high marks in the floor exercise enabled the team to take it all.

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE

“Our mantra is never give up, never give in and work as hard as you can until the end until you get what you want, and that’s exactly what [the team] did today,” said head coach John Lavallee. “When you see everybody’s star rise, it is just reinforcement that Aggie gymnastics is on the right track and they’re doing the right things.”

The meet, which was the seventh consecutive victory for the Aggies, upheld the team’s continuing trend of remarkable individual performances. For the second time in just two weeks, junior Alexis Brown hit a 9.900 on balance beam, landing her in a five-way tie for the school’s all-time record. Additionally, Brown acquired the all-around crown with her score of 39.300 and emerged as the conference’s MPSF Gymnast of the Week for the second week in a row.

“You just have to hit for your team and I think that has really changed our whole dynamic this year,” Brown said. “We’re so much happier, so much more positive now that we do this for each other. I know my 9.900 [on bars] is helping the team get to where we want to go, which ultimately is [NCAA] Regionals.”

Solid performances delivered across the team also contributed to the near-sweep of events for the Aggies, allowing them to capture the wins in uneven bars, vault, floor exercise and the aforementioned overall title.

Sophomores Yasmine Yektaparast and Kara Jones both landed 9.875 on the floor exercise, qualifying them for a five-way tie for first place in the event. Senior Katy Nogaki tied for first in vault with a 9.800, while senior Yonni Michovska shared the top spot on bars with a score of 9.825. Like Brown, Michovska championed a career best in bars in the previous meet, an accomplishment that has contributed both to her and the team’s morale.

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE

“To me personally, it is the greatest joy in the world, especially since I’ve been working for years to hit that exact score,” Michovska said. “It’s amazing because [the team] needs those five scores to come together and that is one of the highest scores you can get.”

Though the Aggies have been making quick work of their recent contestants, it is imperative that they remain focused and prepared for the intense competition looming in the near future. The coming championship week is just two meets away.

“We are making sure to get enough rest, mentally and physically […] we are staying in the zone every single day in practice,” Brown said. “Right now, it’s less about the numbers […] it’s just about really being there for each other at every moment and making each turn count.”

The Aggies hit the road for their next meet against Sacramento State University on Saturday, March 4, and will return for their final home meet against Air Force on Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m.

Written by: Alex Arechiga — sports@theaggie.org