About SUU: Southern Utah University will enter the contest on Friday having opened the year with a victory on the road at Utah State. The Thunderbirds were led by all-arounders Ari Lamb and Brooke Cersosimo who tied for the all-around title with a 38.875. Lamb added a balance beam title to her all-around title after scoring a meet-high 9.825 on the event.
SUU will have another gymnast for its lineups on Friday night as sophomore Michaela Chernoch will return after having missed the opening meet of the season. Chernoch is anticipated to appear on bars and beam.
About UCLA: UCLA will enter the meet on Friday having competed in two meets already this season, falling at the University of Utah and finishing second in the Pac-10 showcase.
The Bruins have recorded a pair of 195’s during the two-meet stretch, scoring 195.300 at Utah and a 195.925 last weekend. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs led UCLA last week, capturing the all-around title with a 39.550 after scoring 9.950 on beam and floor.
Head Coach Scott Bauman’s Thoughts: UCLA will be coming into the meet with a 5-2 record and is very tough, but their are not invincible. If we are able to hit all of our routines, we could make this meet very close. We certainly have a good chance in this meet and the home crowd will make all the difference for us.
Defending the trophy: Southern Utah will enter the 2011 season as the defending Western Athletic Conference champions after capturing the trophy for the first time in school history in 2010.
Defending the titles: Sophomore Caitlin Kennedy will also enter the season with a chance to defend her conference title on beam. The Temple, Texas native scored a 9.875 on the event to take the title in 2010.
Departed Seniors: The Thunderbirds will be without departed seniors Melissa Johnson and Elise Wheeler in 2011. The pair will leave behind much to be missed, as Johnson capture the WAC vault title last year. Wheeler was a three-time All-American in 2009, two-time WAC Gymnast of the Year and the 2010 North Central Region Gymnast of the Year.
Injury bug bites early: Senior and team captain Jenna Vogt will be out for the 2011 campaign after tearing her Achilles tendon three weeks before the season was set to begin.
Preseason poll: Southern Utah University has been picked second in the annual preseason poll as voted upon by the conference coaches, earning two first-place votes and trailing conference favorite Boise State by one point.
WAC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Boise State (4) 23
2. Southern Utah (2) 22
3. San Jose State 14
4. Utah State 13
Sacramento State 13
6. Cal State Fullerton 5
Follow the Thunderbirds online: SUU gymnastics fans can follow the team online at www.suutbirds.com.