Boise State notebook: Gymnasts will host Hawkeyes tonight

The wrestlers are headed to the Pac-12 meet; track team is off to MW indoors.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comFebruary 28, 2014 

The State Board of Education unanimously approved new BSU football coach Bryan Harsin’s contract Thursday.

KYLE GREEN — Idaho Statesman file

— Diana Mejia won two Junior Olympic national championships on the bars — an accomplishment that landed the gymnast an anchor role in the Boise State bars lineup as a freshman.

So far, Mejia has lived up to her reputation. She has scored 9.925 in each of the past two meets and has won the event in three meets this season. She also is a solid, but not yet spectacular, leadoff competitor on the beam.

The Broncos face Iowa at 7 p.m. Friday at Taco Bell Arena.

“She’s super talented,” Boise State co-coach Tina Bird said. “From day one, she came in this summer and showed us what she can do. We’ve just been fine-tuning her a little bit. She’s been a really great bars anchor for us.”

Mejia, who is from Vancouver, Wash., said she became a bars standout as a young gymnast when she was dealing with a run of ankle injuries. She could practice her bars skills, other than the dismount, without issues.

She won her national titles in high school — competing against the nation’s best other than those on the Olympic track.

“Now I’ve just grown to love it,” she said. “It comes pretty easy to me. It’s just muscle memory now.”

Mejia’s college bars routine is actually simpler than her club routine, she said.

“It’s less stress and just focusing on what I do best,” she said.

She could be a big factor for the Broncos on beam, too, if she cleans up her dismount. She has scored in the 9.7s in six of seven meets and doesn’t have a fall. Fixing the dismount would turn those scores into 9.8s.

“Once she gets something, she’s money,” Bird said.

Like Mejia, the Broncos are scoring well this season but haven’t quite reached their potential. They’re ranked 17th in the nation and have the highest regional qualifying score in school history, with four meets left to improve it.

“We’re super consistent with our routines, but we’re not getting our stuck landings,” Bird said. “As soon as we do that, we’re going to shoot up in the rankings.”

WRESTLING

The Broncos will wrestle for a Pac-12 title Sunday at Stanford — their first competition in a month.

Oregon State and Stanford are the favorites, Boise State coach Greg Randall said. But he thinks the Broncos have a shot at their seventh Pac-12 title.

“The break was good,” he said. “Now it’s time to see if it pays off.”

The Broncos went 2-3 in Pac-12 duals this season. They beat Oregon State and lost to Stanford.

Seniors J.T. Felix (heavyweight) and Jake Swartz (184 pounds) are expected to receive No. 1 seeds, but the rest of the Broncos will be underdogs and many of them will face wrestlers who have beaten them this season.

“This is a chance to redeem ourselves,” Randall said. “I’ve always had a philosophy: Nobody should beat you twice in the same season.”

Felix (21-3, ranked No. 10) and Swartz (10-1, ranked No. 6) likely need to dominate for the Broncos to win. It’s also a chance for them to build momentum going into their last NCAA meet, which begins March 20.

“I’m expecting three pins from (Felix),” Randall said. “And I’m sure he’s expecting the same.”

TRACK AND FIELD

The Broncos entered their first Mountain West Indoor Championships under coach Corey Ihmels with some heavy firepower but light depth.

Title contenders include Emma Bates in the 3,000 meters, Mackenzie Flannigan in the 200 and 60, Allison Jeffries in the pole vault, Hayli Bozarth in the shot put, Jordin Andrade in the 400, Allan Schroeder in the 3,000, Roderick Townsend in the high jump and Ryan Sanders in the triple jump.

The meet began Thursday at Air Force, but most events are Friday and Saturday.

“We have a bunch of athletes who I think have a chance to win some events,” Ihmels said. “At this point, we’re not very deep. … We had some turnover with the coaching change. I think philosophically we’re heading in a little bit maybe different direction. We’re building toward the future.”

Bates already is a lock to make the NCAA meet in the 5,000. She’s trying to secure a spot in the 3,000 this week.

FOOTBALL

The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved coach Bryan Harsin’s contract. The contract, including a separate licensing agreement, is for five years and $6.5 million.

Also Thursday, Boise State announced its spring practice schedule — one that revealed that most of the 15 practices will be private. The media had been invited to nearly all spring practices in past years.

This spring, three practices are open to the media — including the two scrimmages, which will have fan access. Of the other 12 practices, seven are completely closed and five will be open to the media for just 20 minutes.

Spring ball begins March 10. The scrimmages are April 5 (5 p.m.) and April 12 (5 p.m.). The second scrimmage is the Spring Game; the school has not released details of the first scrimmage, but Harsin has indicated it will be open to fans.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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