Southern Utah’s head coach Scotty Bauman has known junior Mayson Bentley since the beginning of her gymnastics career. Bentley grew up in the Southern Utah gymnastics club program and is the eighth gymnast from it to compete for the university.
The club practices roughly four times a week for just two hours a day. “It really was never intended to develop level nine and level 10 gymnasts,” Bauman said.
For two years, Bentley, who is a walk-on, was on the sideline moving mats and cheering her team on, but she never saw the competition lineup. When the opportunity to compete came in her third year, Bentley made the most of it.
“When my athletes are competing, I try not to take a lot of the attention away from them and celebrate too much and get too crazy up there,” Bauman said. “I just couldn’t help but lose my mind up there. It was pretty cool, and you can tell for Mayson that it was just one of those surreal moments in her life that she’ll never forget and nobody on that team will ever forget.”
On Jan. 9, the junior made her debut and won the bars title at Best of Utah with a 9.900 to open the 2021 season.
“It was really surreal and after it happened, I didn’t realize what the score was. I was just excited to put my best routine out there,” Bentley said. “It’s really amazing and probably one of the best moments of my life and my gymnastics career.”
The routine was special, but it was nothing out of the ordinary for the bars specialist.
“This entire team and our entire staff could not wait to put Mayson in those bar lineups this year because all preseason long she has been our most consistent athlete,” Bauman said.
A change in mindset has been the difference maker for Bentley in 2021. She says she was intentional and efficient with her training in the offseason and also explained that she took a college course that focused on mindset and approach in athletics that played a role in her offseason progress.
Bentley may be a newer addition to the competition lineups, but the energy she brings with her has played a significant role in her contribution to the team.
“Her team voted her as one of the leaders on this team,” Bauman said. “Mayson is one of those people as a junior who never competed.”
The leadership team consists of a team captain and a leadership council, a few athletes that help to assist the caption.
“It’s been really amazing to watch her gymnastics improve so much, but her confidence and her leadership abilities is what has really been the biggest factor to what Mayson brings to our team,” Bauman said. “I mean, her bars are great—and yes, she can go out and go 9.900 any time she touches them—but it’s what she brings to the team leadership wise, energy-wise.”
Bentley isn’t unique having never competed as an underclassman. And while it would have been easy to retire early, the thought never crossed the junior’s mind.
“Hard work really does pay off. One task is one goal and just keep pushing because it’ll get there,” Bentley said. “Pressure is a privilege. Just be grateful for every turn you get to take and every routine you get to complete in practice and in the meet.”
For Bentley, her collegiate competition career has just gotten started, and Bauman thinks her best gymnastics is still to come. She may add a second event to her repertoire in 2022, as she’s been hard at work training a Yurchenko full-on tuck on vault.
“When she can hit that thing 10 out of 10 times and it’s as easy for her as a bar routine, we’ll put it in there,” Bauman said.
For now, the junior is thankful for the opportunity simply to compete with her teammates.
“This team has shown so much grit and love for the sport through this season,” Bentley said. “It’s really obvious in this team that they just love to be here and are grateful to even have a season.”
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