The goal for Utah’s fifth-ranked gymnastics team is to be taken as a serious threat for the national title from the beginning of the season.

While Friday’s meet had some mistakes, the Utes definitely showed signs they could be among the elite as the Utes opened the season with a 197-194.275 win over Brigham Young in front of 14,805 at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes were led by MyKayla Skinner and MaKenna Merrell-Giles who tied for the all-around with 39.475.

Utah opened up with 49.325 on both the vault and uneven bars, then had some trouble on the balance beam, scoring just 48.975. Leadoff gymnast Shannon McNatt had a break and scored 9.575 while Missy Reinstadtler fell and scored 9.275.

The Utes recovered with a 49.375 on the floor, paced by Merrell-Giles’ 9.925.

Senior Tiffani Lewis said the opener was about as good as the team could have hoped to have.

“It was exactly the way we were practicing,” she said. “I’m not surprised by anything that happened. There were a few mishaps but you know that is going to happen but it’s the beginning of the season. We have a good mentality and we will go into the gym and brush that off.”

During the preseason the Utes put an emphasis on sticking their dismounts, an area in which they were inconsistent last year. The extra work seemed to help as Utah had little trouble nailing landings on the vault and uneven bars.

A stuck landing helped sophomore Kim Tessen tie her career best on vault with a 9.9 and several finished their uneven bars with clean landings.

“For where this team’s goals are, this was a fitting start if they truly want to inch up higher than they finished last year,” co-coach Tom Farden said. “They needed to start with some strong confidence and be in command of their gymnastics.”

The Cougars, ranked No. 34 nationally, had a decent showing in their season opener.

BYU never threatened the Utes after it suffered two falls on the uneven bars to open the meet and scoring 47.9, but battled back with a 48.775 on vault led by a 9.8 from Mackenzie Douglas.

The Cougars’ best showing was on floor where they scored a 48.9 led by 9.825 from Kyleigh Greenlief and a 9.8 from Shannon Hortman-Evans.

BYU finished with a 48.7 on the balance beam, hitting all its routines. Jill van Mierlo led the team with 9.8.

With the team competition settled early, the only real drama at the end was whether anyone would catch Skinner for the all-around title. A combination of a solid floor routine by Merrell-Giles and a rare step-out by Skinner that cost her a .10 deduction left the Utah duo in a tie.

It was Merrell-Giles’ seventh career win and the 46th for Skinner.

“MaKenna has really embraced the training and strategy behind college gymnastics,” Farden said of the junior. “When she first got her she didn’t quite understand the game and strategy in terms of skill selection but she had a great opening night.”