The Boise State gymnastics team is hoping for a sophomore surge not a sophomore slump.
The Broncos three sophomores are expected to fill 11 of 24 lineup spots in the season opener Friday at Taco Bell Arena (7 p.m.) against Utah State.
Caitlinn Mann and Kelsey Morris enter the season as all-arounders. Ciera Perkins competes on everything but beam.
They were key contributors last year, too performing seven routines at the NCAA regional meet but this year theyre among the teams leaders.
It feels a lot different because I know whats happening and I know what to expect and I know the adrenaline rush, Perkins said. Last year, I was a little scared. This year, Im confident in myself and ready to go out and show everyone again who we are.
Added Mann: Last year, I wasnt as consistent as I wanted to be. This year is going to be a lot different.
The Broncos, who had legitimate shots to reach the NCAA meet for the first time in school history the past two seasons, will need those sophomores to perform at a high level to break through this year.
They were reliable last year, but rarely spectacular. Manns season high was a 9.875 on bars and floor. Morris highlight was a 9.875 on bars. Perkins hit 9.9 on bars and vault.
Departed senior Amy Glass, by contrast, scored 9.9 or better 11 times.
Last year, we were just, Stay on the equipment and contribute to the score, co-coach Tina Bird said. This year, were on every little detail. Theyre used to that now, so theyre really turning it out. Theyre stepping up and theyre doing all the work. Theyre ready to make those detail changes and its going to put their scores up probably a tenth and a half.
The sophomores are part of a different lineup look for the Broncos this year. The team has relied heavily on specialists recently, but with all-arounders Brittany Potvin-Green (senior) and Kelsey Black (junior) its possible that five gymnasts will account for 19 of the 24 scores.
That leaves five slots for everyone else, including a six-woman freshman class.
Theyve had some adjustments to do like any freshman has to make, and I think theyre going to each meet get stronger and hopefully contribute more as the year goes on, Bird said, but man, those sophomores arent going to open the door for them so theyve got some work to do.
The sophomores are trying to help the freshman catch up mentoring the gymnasts who are going through exactly what they experienced a year ago.
We definitely have to step up and be more of a mom to some of the younger girls, Morris said. This is going to be a real exciting year. Since we have such a young team, we have to really step up. Its going to be a different team than last year but I think its going to be really fun.
For the three sophomores, it could be the start of a high-impact run.
All three of us together could really make some history for the school, Morris said.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
The Broncos face Wyoming on Saturday at the West Family YMCA and Boise Aquatic Center. The senior day meet starts at 11 a.m. The meet also includes Big Splash the football teams fifth annual exhibition diving competition.
Offensive linemen Charles Leno Jr. and Spencer Gerke and fullback Jamal Wilson will dive for the offense. Nickel Corey Bell, safety Dillon Lukehart and defensive tackle Robert Ash will dive for the defense. Tailback Jay Ajayi and offensive lineman Rees Odhiambo are the judges.
Boise State opens the spring season with a doubleheader against Montana and Air Force on Saturday at the Boas Tennis Center. The Montana match begins at 10 a.m. and the Air Force match begins at 6 p.m.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat