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BYU tumbles past Thunderbirds

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Marie-Helene Claveau (left) and Lisa Willis (right) congratulate Kandis Kelly after her performance on the beam against SUU on Friday.

Marie-Helene Claveau (left) and Lisa Willis (right) congratulate Kandis Kelly after her performance on the beam against SUU on Friday.

Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

PROVO — BYU tumbled into the Marriott Center for the first home meet of the year and took on the T-Birds of Southern Utah University. The Cougars rolled to a 195.725-192.575 victory, outscoring their opponents in every event.

Facing off against the Thunderbirds for the first of three times this season, the Cougars vaulted out to the early lead. Sophomore all-arounder Marie-Helene Claveau led the way with a 9.9. Two other Cougars tied for second with 9.85s as Jaime Mabray and Kirsten Pauga both bested their scores from the meet in Cancun last week. Sierra Jacobs and Alethea Boon helped the team with their own top scores as the Cougars topped SUU 49.075-48.5 on the vault.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. We're making mistakes on good stuff," said BYU coach Rod Cattermole. "We've upped our skill level this year, and we'll probably take a hit early in the season."

Neither team fared quite as well on the uneven bars, but the Cougars once again beat their rivals 48.925-47.775. Three gymnasts swung to the high score of the night with 9.8 as BYU's Lisa Willis and Candace Bauer joined SUU's Ashley Sharpe for top honors. The Cougars made it through the first two events without a fall, but the T-Birds had to count a 9.125 by senior all-arounder Carly Geronimo. Overall the Cougars showed a .825 improvement over last week's bars score.

"We made some progress from the first week, but we're still not quite where we'd like to be," said Cattermole. "But they're confident and they're working hard."

This was SUU's first meet of the season, and gymnasts on both teams looked to be working through some jitters, especially in the final two events.

Things started well for the Cougars on the balance beam. Kandis Kelly punched out a career-high 9.9 to take beam honors, and Kacie Capra bested her score from last week, putting together a 9.75 routine. But then a couple of falls reminded the crowd that the season is still young as two Cougars took tumbles and the team had to count a 9.325.

SUU suffered its own problems, scoring a 47.65 to the Cougars' 48.6.

As they made their way to the floor, the Cougars regained their confidence, and three of the first four gymnasts recorded career highs. Jacobs won the event with her own career-high 9.9, and Capra and Geronimo tied for second with 9.875.

The gymnasts are still working to perfect their landings on every event, said Cattermole, but his team did improve on its season opener.

Mabray won the all-around with a season-best 39.25, and Claveau followed closely on her heels with a 39.2. SUU's Sheena Shaw, who attended Payson High, came in third with a 38.85.

SUU and BYU next meet in Provo on Feb. 18.