Courtney McGregor

Boise State gymnast Courtney McGregor sprints down the floor towards the vault during competition on Jan. 19, 2018.

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Entering the season looking for a sixth straight conference title and 13th straight trip to the NCAA Regional Championships, the Boise State gymnastics team will get a good idea how it matches up against one of the nation’s best today.

The No. 18 Broncos open their 2020 campaign with a trip to Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, where they will take on No. 4 UCLA. The Bruins finished third at the NCAA Championships last season, and have won seven national titles, most recently in 2018.

The match will be televised on the Pac-12 Network, beginning at 4 p.m.

“It’s awesome, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the first meet,” said senior Isabella Amado. “There’s always first-meet jitters, so hopefully we can rise to the occasion and maybe pull out a win, who knows.”

The Bruins bring in plenty of star power, including senior Kyla Ross, a 19-time All-American who has won four individual national titles in her career at UCLA. Ross was also a member of the 2012 United State Olympic Team, where she won a team gold medal.

But the Broncos have proven themselves as a solid team in their own right, winning the last five Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference titles, including one last year after Shani Remme, the most decorated gymnast in school history, went down with an injury midway through her senior season.

Boise State went on to win the league title with Courtney McGregor capturing the All-Around Championship and Alexis Stokes winning the title on the bars. Both are back for the Broncos this season.

“It’s going to be cool to see if we can keep up with them,” McGregor said about the opener. “Gymnastics is kind of unique, you don’t necessarily face off against the other team. We just do our own thing and see how the score pans out.”

For Boise State, this will mark the start of 11 straight weeks of competition, leading into the MRGC Championship, which the Broncos will host March 21 at ExtraMile Arena.

After a meet at Washington and a tri-meet against San Jose State and Seattle Pacific, Boise State will begin conference play in its home opener on Jan. 31 against BYU.

“I think the sky’s the limit,” said coach Tina Bird. “We’re going to start at a pretty good level, but I think we’re just going to keep getting better each month. So by the time we climax in April, it should be back to what we normally do, make Bronco history.”

With another win at the MRGC championships, Boise State would become the first program at Boise State to win six straight conference titles in 40 years. The only program that won more was the wrestling team, which won the Big Sky title in seven straight seasons, from 1974-80.

In addition to McGregor and Stokes, the Broncos also return a pair of first team All-MRGC Gymnasts. Emily Muhlenhaupt was first team on the bars last season, while Gabriela Bouza was first team on the beam in 2018.

“I think we’re just all going for that conference title this year, because we’re going to be hosting, too,” said McGregor. “We really, really want that six-peat.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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