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Strong family ties helped mold Utah State’s McKinzey Martinez

LOGAN — McKinzey Martinez, the youngest of 11 children, credits her family for helping her to get where she is today.

“My family is everything to me,” the Utah State senior gymnast said. “I can’t thank them enough for everything that they do for me.”

Martinez said Utah State being close to her family was a big factor in her decision to attend. Martinez is originally from Twin Falls, Idaho, before moving to Kimberly, Idaho, when she was about 12 years old.

“It’s a pretty small town, and it’s pretty country there,” Martinez said. “We go out and ride horses and four-wheelers. I like the outdoors, so I loved growing up there.”

While she has 10 siblings, Martinez said she was the only one to do gymnastics, which she has been doing since she was 3 years old.

“Even after all these years, my passion for it hasn’t died, and I love everything about it still,” Martinez said. “A lot of people get tired of it and don’t have the same passion by the time they’re my age.”

“She’s really focused and she’s really passionate,” said USU head gymnastics coach Nadalie Walsh. “She really just loves the sport of gymnastics. I would classify her as an absolute perfectionist. She cares about every detail when she’s in the gym.”

Martinez has faced two season-ending injuries in her collegiate career. The first came after an injury on the vault in a dual meet during her freshman season, and the second came after just five meets during her sophomore season.

“She never gives up,” Walsh said. “She keeps her head up and stays strong.”

Martinez hopes to finish her senior season strong and on a positive note. So far this season, Martinez is averaging 38.775 in the all-around, 9.771 on vault, 9.725 on bars, 9.431 on beam and 9.758 on floor.

Martinez has competed in the all-around in four of the six meets so far in her senior season with a season-best 39.150 against Centenary College. Martinez has also already had two career-highs this season with a 9.950 on bars at Southern Utah, which is tied for the highest bar score this season in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference, and a 9.875 on floor at Denver.

Martinez has won four event titles this season with three coming against Centenary College on vault, bars and floor and one at Southern Utah on bars.

“She’s a reliable big scorer for us. Every time she goes out there you know she’s going to hit and she’s going to get a good score,” Walsh said. “She sets a good standard for how clean gymnastics should be.”

During her freshman season, Martinez recorded four event titles with three on bars, including a then career-high 9.875 in a tri-meet against San José State and Brown, and one on vault. Martinez also tied for second on vault against Denver with a career-high score of 9.900.

In her sophomore season, Martinez competed in the first five meets before her season-ending injury, averaging 9.655 on bars.

In her junior season, Martinez averaged 9.802 on vault, ranking fourth all-time in school history for a single-season vault average; 9.785 on floor; 9.719 on bars; and 9.713 on beam. Martinez had nine event titles on the season and an NCAA Regional Qualifying Score of 39.235 to rank eighth in the North Central Region and tied for 34th in the nation.

Martinez placed fifth in the all-around at the conference championships, earning second-team MRGC honors.

“Last year was a big year for her to be able to carry the team,” Walsh said. “Now she’s sharing those duties with a whole team that is able to help her accomplish her goals.”

Walsh said the team can and has looked to Martinez to model the standard she sets.

“Our team is really leveling off,” Walsh said. “It’s great to have a group of girls that are getting those high scores together to make it more of a team goal.”

When she is not doing school or gymnastics, Martinez said she likes to relax and spend time with friends.

“We don’t get a lot of free time, so just hanging out with friends is really just the most fun we have,” Martinez said.

Martinez has enjoyed her time as an Aggie.

“The best part about being an Aggie is the support you get all around. From your team, from the community and from other sports. It’s been great,” Martinez said. “I love it here. I love the team and the school. It’s just been a great experience.”

After she graduates with a degree in exercise science, Martinez said she has a few more prerequisites to finish before she plans to apply to nursing school to become a registered nurse.

Ashley Springer is a student at Utah State University studying journalism and communication. Springer is an intern with the USU athletic department's media relations.