The BSU freshman class. Photograph: Tessa Otuafi/Twitter

Boise State had an outstanding 2017 season. They finished thirteenth overall in the national ranking, and posted the highest score in school history, a 197.675 during the regular season against Denver. The Broncos also had an outstanding academic year, with fourteen out of their fifteen gymnasts earning scholastic All-American honours, and with four gymnast finishing the year with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The four women were Mary Frances Bir (health sciences), Sandra Collantes (psychology), Courtney McGregor (health sciences) and Abby Webb (biology).

The Broncos said goodbye to three outstanding seniors: Mackenzie Bennion, who was the 2016 MRGC vault champion and, in her senior year, competed in all eleven meets for the Broncos on vault, bars and floor; Diana Mejia, who contributed to the team especially on bars, and was the 2017 MRGC Event Specialist of the Year and uneven bars champion; and Paige Urguhart, who competed mostly on beam and floor, and scored a 9.800 or better in eight of her nine beam routines in 2017.

Boise State has welcomed five new promising freshmen: Gabriela Bouza-Lazo, from Rio Rico, Arizona; Tatum Bruden, from Peoria, Arizona; Emily Muhlenhaupt, from Castle Rock, Colorado; Rachel Obmann, from Roseville, California; and Tessa Otuafi, from Reno, Nevada.


Gabriela Bouza-Lazo trained first at Gym-Max and later at Arizona Dynamics Gymnastics. She is a 2017 Junior Olympic qualifier, and finished twenty-sixth in the all around. Also in 2017, at the Arizona State championships she won bronze on vault and bars and was sixth in the all around. And at the 2017 Region 1 championships, she tied for third place on balance beam and was seventh in the all around. Her best meet of 2017 was the Long Beach Open, where Bouza-Lazo won the beam title, as well as bronze on vault and in the all around.

Bouza-Lazo is strong on all apparatuses, but she shines particularly on beam, where she presents some very clean, strong and pretty work, which included a free-walkover into split jump and a BHSO + LOSO series. On floor, another strong apparatus for her, she competes a double pike, a front layout into front full and a double tuck. Bouza-Lazo is also good on vault, where she competes a strong FTY.


Tatum Bruden did her club training at Arizona Sunrays. She is a four-time Junior Olympic qualifier (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017). In 2013 she was twentieth in the all around; in 2015 she was twenty-first; in 2016 she tied for twelfth in the all around and for ninth on floor; and in 2017 she was thirteenth in the all around and tied for ninth on bars. Bruden is a two-time Arizona State champion on floor (2016 and 2017, both times tied), and in 2017 she was also second on vault and third in the all around. Also in 2017, she had an outstanding regional competition. At the Region 1 championships, she won gold both in the all around and on beam, tied for bronze on vault and floor and was fourth on bars.

Bruden is another strong all arounder. Her best apparatuses are beam and vault. On beam, she has a lot of difficulty, including a side somi, a BHSO + BHSO + back layout series, a switch ring, a sheep jump, and a double twisting dismount. On vault, she competes both a Yurchenko Arabian, which starts from a 10.0 D-score, and a FTY. Bruden is also strong on floor and bars. On floor, she performs a full-in, a half twist into full twist into front pike and a double pike, and is training a double layout. And on bars, she can perform a full pirouette and a double layout dismount.


Emily Muhlenhaupt trained at Colorado Aerials Gymnastics Center. She competed as an elite gymnast at the Secret U.S. Classic  in 2013 in the junior division. As a Level 10 gymnast, she is a two-time Junior Olympic qualifier (2013 and 2015). In 2015 she tied for bronze on bars and finished eighth in the all around. In 2017 she competed at the Colorado State championships, where she won the bars title and was fourteenth in the all around. Her best meet of 2017 was the Denver Winterfest Classic, where she won gold both on bars and on beam.

Muhlenhaupt is another fantastic all arounder and is clean and precise on all apparatuses. On bars, she competes a Jaeger to shoot-over and a double tuck dismount. On floor, she performs a double tuck, a one-and-a-half twist into front pike and a double twist. On beam, she competes a BHSO + LOSO series, a switch leap into back tuck, a sheep jump, a free-cartwheel and a double twisting dismount. Finally, on vault she competes a beautiful FTY.


Rachel Obmann did her club training at Byers Gymnastics Center II. She is the 2017 Region 1 bronze medallist (tied) on vault, the 2016 bronze medallist on floor and the 2015 silver medallist on floor. Since she started competing as a Level 10 in 2015, Obmann has always won at least one medal at the Northern Californian State championships. In 2015 she tied for gold on floor exercise; in 2016, by far her best competition, she won gold in the all around, on vault and on bars, silver on floor and bronze on beam; in 2017 she competed only on bars and won a bronze medal.

Obmann is also a strong all arounder, but stands out on floor, because she is a real performer. She competes a double twist into back tuck, a full-in, a double tuck and a double spin, but she excels in her presentation and choreography. She will become a crowd favourite! Obmann is also very strong on vault, where she competes a very high FTY. She also excellent on beam and bars. On beam she competes a BHSO + LOSO series, a free-cartwheel and side full-twisting dismount. And on bars she performs a Tkatchev, shoot over and a double tuck dismount in combination. Already during her club career, she seemed to feel the team spirit – she will be fun to watch next year!


Tessa Otuafi trained at Flip USA Gymnastics, and started competing as a Level 10 gymnast in 2014. She competed at the Region 1 championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and improved steadily every year. In 2014 she was seventeenth on floor and twenty-fourth in the all around; in 2015 she tied for eleventh on vault and was twentieth in the all around; and in 2016 she was sixth on vault, tied for sixth also on floor and was sixteenth in the all around. Otuafi won a silver medal on vault at the 2014 Nevada State championships and tied for another silver medal on balance beam at the same competition.

Outafi is very strong on vault, beam and floor. On vault, she competes a very high and precise half-twisting Yurchenko. On beam, she performs a free-cartwheel and a BHSO + LOSO + full-twisting dismount. And on floor, she performs a double pike, a half twist into full twist and a double tuck.

Good luck to the future Broncos!

Article by Talitha Ilacqua


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