Boise State

Even with its top gymnast on crutches, Boise State comes up big against Pac-12 foe

Boise State sophomore Gabriela Bouza celebrates her career-high score of 9.900 on balance beam Friday night at Taco Bell Arena.
Boise State sophomore Gabriela Bouza celebrates her career-high score of 9.900 on balance beam Friday night at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State Photo Services

Losing senior Shani Remme to a career-ending injury was a worst-case scenario come true for the Boise State gymnastics team.

But make no mistake, the No. 13 Broncos are going to be just fine.

In their first full meet without the program’s career leader in all-around wins, the Broncos posted the fourth-highest team score in program history to defeat No. 17 Washington 197.125 to 196.750 on Friday night at Taco Bell Arena. Utah State finished third with a score of 195.025.

“If someone makes a mistake in a routine, the very next girl up on the apparatus says: ‘That’s OK. I’ve got your back,’ ” Boise State co-head coach Neil Resnick said. “We know that someone can miss a routine, or someone can get hurt. In this case Shani got hurt, and this team had her back.”

Remme tore the ACL in her left knee in competition at No. 6 Denver last week, and she announced Wednesday on Instagram that the injury would rob her of the remainder of her senior season.

The Broncos responded to the devastating news with a career effort Friday night, starting with senior Sarah Means’ individual win on vault. Means matched her career high with a 9.925.

On their second rotation, junior Courtney McGregor wowed the crowd of 2,028 by earning a perfect 10 from one of the two judges on her bars routine. The result was a career-best 9.975 for the Christchurch, New Zealand, native, which also ties for the highest score on the apparatus in program history.

And McGregor wasn’t the only Bronco to nail her bars routine. Sophomore Gabriela Bouza established a career high with a 9.900, and sophomore Emily Muhlenhaupt and freshman Alexis Stokes each earned 9.925s. Boise State combined for a 49.575 on bars, tying for the highest score in program history.

“We definitely really worked hard in the gym this week to try and do well for Shani,” McGregor said. “We want to finish the season out strong for her and get her a conference ring.”

The four-time defending Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference champions kept their nerves in check on the balance beam, despite knowing they had to make do without the winningest beam worker in Boise State history. Remme has 23 career wins on the apparatus and is an All-American in the event.

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Gymnastics vs. University of Washington and Utah State, Brooke Sutton Photo Brooke Sutton Boise State Photo Services

With Remme watching nearby on crutches, three Broncos posted career bests on beam. Redshirt senior Alex Esmerian won the event with a 9.950, while Isabella Amado (9.925) and Bouza (9.900) finished second and third, respectively, with back-to-back career bests.

“Neil always picks a word for the week, and he picked tunnel vision,” Esmerian said. “We were just focused on the present, on the now and just letting things fall into place. Nothing changes for us.”

Boise State finished the night on floor with two more personal bests from Amado (9.850) and junior Maddi Nilson (9.800).

The floor title went to Utah State’s Madison Ward (9.925), and Washington’s Evanni Roberson (39.500) held off McGregor (39.375) and Ward (39.375) for the all-around win.

“Great teams and well-prepared teams respond to adversity with greatness,” Resnick said. “And that’s what they did.”

Boise State’s final home meet of the 2019 season is at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, against No. 19 BYU.

Rachel Roberts has been covering sports for the Idaho Statesman since 2005. She attended Northwest Nazarene University and is Boise born and raised.

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