On opening night for the BYU women's gymnastics team, the Cougars suffered an acute case of first-meet jitters against Southern Utah University.
Not all the Cougars succumbed to nerves, however. Fortunately for BYU, it had Kelli Rose.Rose, BYU's lone senior, turned in perhaps her finest performance ever on Thursday night before a crowd of 1,234 at the Smith Fieldhouse. A model of consistency for the Cougars the past three seasons, Rose proved that, indeed, a Rose is a Rose is a Rose.
The Pleasant Grove product captured the all-around title - a career-best 39.25 - as BYU downed SUU, 191.22 to 189.27. "I exceeded my expectations," Rose admitted afterwards.
"I was real happy with Kelli," said Cougar coach Brad Cattermole, who has come to expect such feats from Rose.
As for the rest of the team, Cattermole noticed the miscues - there were plenty - but he put the circumstances in perspective. "This was our first meet of the season and we struggled a bit," he said. "We know we could have done better. We don't usually make that many mistakes."
Both schools looked shaky at times. "We fell three times on the bars," Cattermole said. "But we could have hit every one. The kids were a little tense. They may have been trying too hard. But I'm not overly worried."
The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, had their share of trouble. SUU is an inexperienced team (the roster includes three freshmen and seven sophomores) and, like the Cougars, the T-birds stumbled on the uneven bars on more than one occasion.
"We're young and we made some young mistakes tonight," said SUU coach Scott Bauman. "But we did a lot of good things, too."
Homecoming for Provo native Julie Talbot Grant, SUU's only senior, was bitter-sweet. While she recorded a 9.7 on the uneven bars, she fell twice on the beam for an 8.6.
Unsurprisingly, it was Rose came out smelling like you-know-what. She executed a nearly flawless bar routine (earning her a 9.9) that would have made John Tesh squeal with delight. Rose also earned a 9.7 on the vault, a 9.8 on the beam and a 9.85 on the floor exercise.
BYU's Angela Anderson finished second in the all-around with a score of 38.20 (including a 9.77 on the vault) while SUU's Tamara Turley placed third at 37.42.