ATHENS, Georgia. (ABC4 Sports) – The No. 5 ranked Utah gymnasts battled valiantly, but a season-high 49.425 beam score on their final event wasn’t quite enough to catch No. 8 Georgia in a 197.525-197.450 loss. Although Georgia led the entire way, a full Stegeman Coliseum could never get comfortable with the Utes hanging within a tenth of a point throughout the meet.
MyKayla Skinner and MaKenna Merrell-Giles stole the spotlight on Georgia’s senior day, placing one-two in the all-around by scoring a 39.675 and 39.600, respectively. Skinner also won floor with a mistake free 9.975 routine and Merrell-Giles captured beam with a career-high 9.95.
Ironically, Utah’s best two events proved its downfall. On vault, where Utah is ranked No. 2 in the nation, steps on landings resulted in a 49.325. Although the Utes beat Georgia on floor, their 49.375 was well below their regional qualifying score of 49.420. Utah won bars and tied for first with the Gymdogs on beam.
“It’s always disappointing to lose,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden. “This was a meet of two powerhouse teams going head to head and we didn’t flinch. We were really pleased with our efforts on beam and bars, where we continue to improve. We tried too hard on vault and floor and didn’t stick landings. On a positive note, it was nice to see the intricate events shine today.”
Utah, which finished the regular season with a 10-3 record, has scored a 197.000-plus in every meet to set a school record. Prior to this season, the record for consecutive 197 scores was seven.
Along with Skinner and Merrell-Giles, Kari Lee had a nice night, scoring a 9.90 to lead off Utah’s big beam set and finishing with a 39.325 all-around score.
Georgia took a 49.475-49.325 lead on the first rotation, where Utah’s bar set was highlighted by 9.90 scores from Merrell-Giles and Skinner.
Even with steps on landings in a disappointing vault set, Utah trimmed the margin to a tenth of a point—98.750-98.650—on the second rotation. Skinner led the way with a 9.925.
While Georgia was reeling off a series of 9.875 and 9.90 scores on beam, Utah encountered struggles landing tumbling passes cleanly on floor through the first four routines. Merrell-Giles (9.90) and Skinner (9.975) helped keep the meet close. After three rotations, Georgia led the Utes 148.175-148.025.
Down but not out, Utah made a run at the Gymdogs on the final event. Along with Lee’s 9.90 and Merrell-Giles’ 9.95, Adrienne Randall and Skinner both contributed 9.875 routines.
Next up for the Utes is the Pac-12 Championship on Saturday, Mar. 23 in West Valley City. Utah will compete in the 6 p.m. session.