Red Rocks narrowly lose at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Steps on vault landings and bobbles on beam cost the No. 3 Utes dearly in a 196.950-196.800 loss to No. 7 Michigan before a UM-record crowd of 7,212 in the Crisler Center. While the Utes hit 24-of-24 routines without a fall for the first time in five weeks, the tenths lost on their vault and beam missteps resulted in their low score of the season. Utah dropped to 8-3 with the loss while Michigan stayed undefeated at home and improved to 11-2-1.

Utah’s team result overshadowed an incredible individual effort by MyKayla Skinner, who won the all-around (39.700), vault (9.925), beam (9.925) and floor (9.95). Her 39.700 all-around score is tied for the eighth-best in school history and is her best since she scored a 39.725 back on Jan. 19.

“MyKayla was coming off two weeks of rest and you could see it in her gymnastics. She was incredible today and was in her element,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden.

“We had one of our better bar sets of the season and I thought we were really good on floor, but we have to clean up those vault landings and cut out the bobbles on beam,” added Farden.

While Utah’s 49.325 bar set was its second best of the season, the Utes came up short on their two marquee events. They entered the meet ranked No. 3 on both vault and floor, but a combination of poor landings on vault and extremely tight scoring on floor resulted in the worst point production of the season on both (49.100 on vault and 49.250 on floor).

Farden found a bright spot in the performance of freshmen Lauren Wong and Sydney Soloski. “I was really proud of Lauren and Sydney for stepping in under tough conditions and performing so well,” said Farden. Wong joined the team in January after graduating early from Salt Lake’s Skyline High School and scored a 9.825 on bars in her college debut. She replaced Kim Tessen, a 9.90 bar worker who has been dealing with an injured shoulder and competed only on vault today. Soloski replaced another freshman—Alexia Burch—in the beam lineup and contributed a 9.800 in her debut on that event. Burch sat out with a knee injury that is not considered season ending.

Utah took the early lead, scoring a 49.325 on bars to Michigan’s 49.100 on vault in the first rotation. Skinner’s 9.90 from the sixth position led the set, which also featured 9.875s from Tiffani Lewis and Missy Reinstadtler.

Only Skinner (9.925) would score over a 9.85 on Utah’s next event—the vault—which combined with a 49.400 on bars by Michigan, put Utah behind 98.500-98.425 after two rotations.

Big scores were a scarcity on floor, where a nice Ute set again featured just one score above a 9.850—Skinner’s 9.95, which came on a stunning performance.

For the third straight meet, Skinner hopped on to the beam as the last Utah competitor of the day with a shot at winning still possible. With Michigan’s last two competitors on floor erupting for 9.90 and 9.95 scores, her exquisite beam routine (which received a 9.925) couldn’t make up the difference.

Utah returns home to the Huntsman Center for its first time in over a month next Friday, hosting Georgia in Senior Night. The meet, which starts at 7:30 p.m., is the last regular-season meet of the season. Utah will also host an NCAA Regional on Apr. 7.

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