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The Sports Report

Six Degrees of Flippin' Birds

The revised 2012 T-Bird gymnastics scheduled dropped the other day, giving us a look at an interesting group of meets for SUU.

First off, SUU will no longer travel up to Utah for a head-to-head with the Red Rocks — this was likely chopped off when Utah joined the PAC 12, a gymnastics-heavy conference. It also appears Kentucky won't travel out to Cedar City like originally believed. There is a possibility that could change, but for now — nothing.

But, Missouri will travel to Centrum Arena to complete a home-and-home with the T-Birds and SUU will travel to Auburn to complete that home-and-home.

But within the schedule, there's an interesting connection to nearly every matchup. Some are easier than other — like the WAC matchups and of course, the SUU-Utah State rivalry between Scott Bauman and former assistant, and current Aggie coach, Jeff Richards.

Then there's others that are harder to connect.

One matchup that is a little fun is Michaela Chernoch, undoubtably the biggest improver year, and Auburn. Chernoch mentioned once to me how much she looked forward to facing the Tigers last year and she didn't disappoint her ambitions by dropping a 9.85 on bars and 9.8 on floor — even while some T-Birds alleged the Auburn gymnasts scoffed at the T-Bird routines.

Chernoch said she had that meet in her mind because she visited Auburn during her recruiting days and was pushed aside as a prospect. Her 9.8 on floor helped in a large comeback to defeat and shock the Tigers. Chernoch will get another chance to show the Tigers what they passed on when the T-Birds travel to Auburn on March 2.

Then there's SUU's trip to Nebraska on Feb. 10, which will be a homecoming of some sorts for the T-Birds' student assistant, Owen Field. Field served as a student assistant for two seasons at Nebraska before leaving UNL for SUU.

That meet will also feature Michigan and West Virginia — which the T-Birds faced at WVU in the 2010 Regionals. SUU also faced Nebraska in the 2011 Regionals.

On March 16, Boise State will travel to the Centrum Arena. This will mark the first non-WAC meeting between these two in some time.

Boise State made a switch to the Mountain West (a non-gymnastic supporting conference) in an effort to gain recognition as a school — but in the end Utah (PAC-12), BYU (IND/WCC) and TCU (Big East) all chose to evacuate the conference. The move backfired for Boise, but originally didn't affect gymnastics. However, WAC officials reportedly decided to not accept Boise back for gymnastics.

Thus, this matchup will be a non-conference meet as Boise State is likely forced into independent status.

The Missouri connection revolves around how much it affected last season. While competing on floor last season, Brooke Cersosimo injured her foot — which was practically the final straw to a stressful season.

It should be an interesting year — and potentially SUU's opportunity to win back the WAC crown. The season, right now, begins Feb. 20 against instate rival BYU.

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