A Beautiful night: Boise State gymnastics wins at Beauty & The Beast

Meanwhile, the wrestling team simmers after their loss to North Dakota State.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJanuary 18, 2014 

— The beauties smiled and the beasts growled Friday night at Taco Bell Arena after Boise State’s latest combined gymnastics and wrestling event.

The Broncos gymnastics team rode a hot start to a solid 195.15 and victories over Denver and BYU, rivals in the new Mountain Rim gymnastics conference.

A crowd of 3,393 turned out — the third-largest since the Beauty and the Beast competitions began in 2003.

“This means a lot to them — to perform in front of our fans,” gymnastics co-coach Neil Resnick said. “They knew the meet was tightening up — I could tell — and they got it done.”

The Bronco wrestling team lost 26-15 to North Dakota State. They dropped six of 10 matches, including two by pin and one by technical fall. That made moot a dominant showing from sixth-ranked heavyweight J.T. Felix in the final match.

The Broncos, usually title contenders in the Pac-12, have dropped three of their past four duals.

“It’s a Division I program and, I’m telling you, some of these guys just don’t wrestle like they belong here,” Boise State coach Greg Randall said. “And that’s my fault. Some of these guys are young, but I really don’t see them coming around to being a wrestler like J.T., and that’s what’s frustrating.”

The dual turned on the 157-pound match. Former Borah High star Taylor West went two overtimes with Nick Olejnik, but gave up a takedown to lose. A win by West would have given the Broncos the lead.

Randall wants to see a new attitude from his team.

“We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to come back and make anything of this season,” he said. “I just want to see them try to win, rather than trying to keep the score close. … I want to see our guys get our weight under control. I want to see guys being able to fight harder in practice. I want to see them try to dominate somebody.”

Felix, a senior, improved to 17-2 this season with his seventh pin. He hoped to take the mat with a chance to decide the dual. A pin is worth six points.

“I wish we were down five points, maybe even six points – we could have won with a pin — but the team didn’t execute,” Felix said. “It’s really frustrating when guys are going out there not trying and worrying about losing, getting pinned. I’m surprised the fans are coming to watch us, that’s for sure.”

The vibe was reversed with the gymnastics team, which set a school record for a season-opening meet last week at Utah and showed flashes of that ability again Friday.

The Broncos opened with a 49.175 on vault, including a meet-best 9.9 by senior Amanda Otuafi.

“At the beginning of the season, my goal was to stick every vault,” Otuafi said. “Last week I came up a little short, so it was good, starting off at home, to start off with my goal.”

The Broncos also were strong on bars (48.975) and floor (48.9), but slipped on beam (48.1), where they counted a fall. Junior Kelsey Morris won the all-around with a 38.95.

Junior Ciera Perkins tied for first on bars (9.85) and floor (9.875). Perkins also was second on vault (9.875). She didn’t compete on beam.

The floor routine was particularly meaningful for Perkins because she didn’t compete on the apparatus most of last year because of an Achilles injury.

“I love floor,” she said. “I’m happy to be at it this year again. It’s the greatest feeling.”

Said Resnick: “She’s come back healthy and on fire. She’s doing a new first tumbling pass, which is the highest-level difficulty, and she hammered it tonight.”

The Broncos, who were ranked 11th this week, improved to 4-1 on the season. They’re home again Friday against Southern Utah.

“Our team just has more commitment (this year) — commitment to doing every little detail right, in and out of the gym,” Otuafi said. “Not that we didn’t want it in the past, but this year we want it more than we’ve ever wanted it before.”

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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