Flippin’ Birds Find a New Conference

Published: September 22, 2023 | Author: SUU Athletics | Read Time: 3 minutes

Gymnast flipping on the bar

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) has welcomed Southern Utah University’s Flippin’ Birds gymnastics team into their conference starting with the upcoming 2024 season. While many of the athletic programs at Southern Utah are primarily affiliated with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), gymnastics is excited to make its debut in the MPSF, expanding the university footprint and field of competition.

The Flippin’ Birds have been outstanding in the gymnastics scene, having competed in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference since 2014. Last year marked a historic milestone for the team as it secured a first-ever conference championship with an impressive team score of 196.875. The team’s journey in the NCAA Regionals in Los Angeles, CA, culminated with a remarkable third-place finish, surpassing No. 12 Auburn. The Thunderbirds’ remarkable season also earned them a place in the NCAA's Top 25 in all four events, securing an overall No. 22 team ranking.

Southern Utah University's Director of Athletics, Doug Knuth, expressed his gratitude for the invitation to join the esteemed MPSF conference. He stated, "We are grateful to Foti Mellis and the MPSF Board for their invitation to join a great gymnastics conference. We look forward to joining these teams to compete at a high level and continue enhancing collegiate gymnastics."

Under the guidance of Scott Bauman, who has led the Thunderbirds for 33 years, achievements have been acknowledged by the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference. Bauman was named MRGC Head Coach of the Year, while Jamie Wysong received recognition as the MRGC Assistant Coach of the Year. Heading into the 2024 season, The Thunderbirds will return several first-team all-conference honorees from last year, including Kayla Pardue on the vault, Ellie Cacciola on the balance beam, and Aubri Schwartze on the floor.

Coach Bauman shared his enthusiasm, saying, "This is a remarkable opportunity for our team to showcase their incredible talent on a new stage. We are grateful for the support from Southern Utah University and are eager to embrace the challenges and triumphs that come with competing in the MPSF. Our gymnasts are prepared to shine, and we are excited to make our mark in this prestigious conference."

The highlight of the 2024 season will be the MPSF Championship, scheduled for March 23, featuring four teams: Alaska Anchorage, Southern Utah, UC Davis, and the host Sacramento State.

Southern Utah Women's Gymnastics proudly joins the MPSF as the 16th team added since the arrival of Executive Director Foti Mellis in 2021, marking the 38th institution and 70th team competing in the 11-sport MPSF during the 2023-24 academic year.

Foti Mellis, Executive Director of the MPSF, expressed his excitement about the addition of SUU to the conference, saying, "We are ecstatic to have Southern Utah's high-caliber program join the MPSF in Women's Gymnastics. The addition of this incredibly strong and successful team elevates the competitiveness of the conference. We are looking forward to an exciting season."

About the MPSF

For more information about MPSF Women's Gymnastics, please visit the conference website at mpsports.org and the MPSF Women's Gymnastics Championship page on mpsports.org, as well as on social media @MPSFSports.

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Regan Hunsaker