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The 2014 season was a rocky time for the BYU Cougars as they tried to incorporate nine freshmen into the team. The results were inconsistent, thanks to all that youth, but the Cougars hope their trial-by-fire season will help them in 2015.
The Cougars finished fourth in the Mountain Rim gymnastics meet after finishing the year with two meets in which they scored 196-plus.
But the lack of experience in a big-meet atmosphere may have caught up with the Cougars, who finished a disappointing sixth at the NCAA Regionals.
This season BYU has a team that knows what to expect in the post-season with 17 gymnasts returning and just four freshmen joining the team.
Leading the returning group is senior KayCee Gassaway, who finished 2014 as an all-conference honoree on the bars and a second-team selection on the vault.
Other seniors returning are Ashley Robinson and Jordan Schult.
Junior Makenzie Johnson could be in for a big year after a sophomore run in which she led the team in bars (9.762), beam (9.678), floor (9.778) and all-around (39.108).
Her presence, along with Gassaway and Eliane Kulczyk should give the Cougars a solid lineup on the uneven bars, an event in which the Cougars were tied for 17th nationally last year averaging 49.09.
Kulczyk leads the team on vault with a 9.842 average, but Gassaway is solid on the event too, which should help the Cougars make up for the loss of another strong vaulter, Raquel Willman Hatch, who was a senior last year.
The Cougars ranked 24th on the vault last year with a 49.11 average and 28th on the floor with a 49.09 average.
They should be just as good if not better on the floor this season with Johnson, Kulczyk, Gassaway and Emily Vidmar all returning.
The one area that could be weak for the Cougars is balance beam, where they were 32nd in 2014 with a 48.845 average.
Vilmar and Johnson return along with junior Summer Raymond and senior Ashley Robinson, two gymnasts who competed on the beam in every meet last year, but otherwise the Cougars lack much returning experience on the event.
BYU, which competes in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championships along with Boise State, Denver, SUU and Utah State, will know exactly how it stands against the elite teams since it opens the season at home Friday against Utah.
The Utes were picked sixth in the Top 25 preseason coaches poll while the Cougars were unranked.
BYU gymnastics schedule
Friday • Utah, 7 p.m.
Jan. 17 • at Ozone Invite., Knoxville, Tenn., 6 p.m.
Jan. 23 • Utah St., 7 p.m.
Jan. 30 • at SUU, 7 p.m.
Feb. 7 • Boise St./Denver, 1 p.m.
Feb. 13 • SUU, 7 p.m.
Feb. 21 • at Denver, 6 p.m.
Feb. 27 • at Boise St., 7 p.m.
March. 6 • CMU, 7 p.m.
March 13 • at USU, 7 p.m.
March 21 • at MRGC Championships (Denver)