Denson goes out in style as Big West gymnast of the year; USU takes second
But it wasn't as difficult to say goodbye as it may have seemed, as Denson led Utah State to a second-place finish and had a near-flawness night at the Big West Conference Gymnastics Championships on Saturday.
Boise State University, with a team score of 196.225, went home with the Big West Conference trophy, while Utah State finished with a score of 194.250. Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara finished third and fourth with respective scores of 194.200 and 191.550.
And despite Boise State's spirited crowd, the loudest cheers of the night came from Aggie fans.
With an all-around score of 39.525, Denson gave the 1,570 fans in attendance plenty to cheer about, easily beating Cal State Fullerton's Joanna Hughes and Boise State's Tiffany Weston, who tied for second place with a score of 39.250. In addition to notching the all-around, Denson added a handful of other awards to her resume, including the Big West Conference Gymnast of the Year.
"Christy Denson is an incredible athlete," said Boise State head coach Sam Sandmire. "You can put her on the floor with anyone and she's going to stick out as a star. I voted for her for gymnast of the meet. It was obvious.
"She's so solid and she does big tricks," added Sandmire. "She's clean and uses good technique. She's just a really awesome gymnast."
Added Utah State head coach Ray Corn: "In terms of (Denson's) passion, determination, success and perfection, that's what's going to be missed. I just hope that it rubs off on a lot of the other (gymnasts)."
Despite Denson's stellar performance, the Aggies struggled early.
Utah State began on beam, where sophomore Kirra Degener fell. Freshman Tina Ellis followed and earned a personal best 9.825. But then the troubles happened.
Kristen Bloom, Nicole Kilpatrick and Kristen Fargo all fell, forcing Utah State to count three falls. And then it was Denson's turn.
"(Corn) told me to do it for myself," Denson said. "The beam team was not having its best night. He said, You deserve it. Do it for yourself.'"
But Denson's 9.825 was little consolation to Corn.
"It was just another repeat of our Big West performance," Corn said. "Last year it was bars, this year the beam. I feel very badly for the team. To be honest, I think we just came out scared."
Following the Aggies' 46.925 beam performance, which happened to be the worst team score of the night in any event, Corn and the Aggies knew they had to play catch up with the rest of the competition.
"We sealed our fate right there on balance beam," said Corn. "But I think that (the Aggies) should be commended--they didn't roll over.
"They came roaring back on floor, vault and uneven bars," added Corn. "We made a horse race out of it between Fullerton and ourselves."
The Aggies' best score of the night came on the floor--their second rotation of the night.
Denson's 9.925 led the team, while Bloom and freshman Erin Maguire both earned a score of 9.90. The Aggies combined for a floor team score of 49.325.
The Aggies also did well on the uneven bars, with a team score of 49.250. Utah State's Trina Ewart and Degener had personal bests with a 9.8 and 9.85, respectively, but once again, it was Denson that stole the show.
After nailing her routine, Denso Corn and her teammates for hugs. Fans chanted "10, 10, 10!," and exploded when one judge awarded her the perfect score, but booed when the other judge gave her a 9.5.
"Christy had a phenomenal night," Corn said. "She knew it was going
to be her last performance in the Spectrum, and I know she wanted to