SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes very first season without either Greg or Megan Marsden at the helm got off to a winning start.
Kim Tessen won the vault (9.90) and uneven bars (9.925) as the #5 Utes beat #12 Kentucky in their season opener, 196.425-195.35.
Tessen also tied teammate Sydney Soloski on the floor routine with scores of 9.90 as the new-look Utes held on for their 7th straight season-opening victory in front of 14,417 fans at the Huntsman Center.
“It feels amazing,” said Tessen. “I chose confidence today and that is something that I have to work on as an individual every single day, but today I told myself that I need to be confident for myself and for my team. I am hoping that that can carry over to the rest of my team members as well.”
In his first meet as the Utes head coach without Megan Marsden, who retired after last season, Tom Farden was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It was a nice opening score and we hit all our routines without major errors,” he said. “I do think this team is hungry for more and they can do more than what they showed tonight.”
Although Utah never trailed Kentucky during the meet, the Red Rocks battled to find momentum and were caught leaving points on the board from uncharacteristic deductions. The talented Ute team was able to pick up the win in convincing fashion over Kentucky to open the season, but the gymnasts and coaching staff know there is plenty more to come from this team.
“I didn’t see as much aggressive execution as I thought we were going to see,” said Farden. “We were a little bit timid. Overall, I am pleased that we were able to have a nice opening score and hit routines without having any major errors.”
Cristal Isa had the Utes best score on the balance beam with a 9.925.
Utah competed without last year’s leading gymnast MyKayla Skinner, who left to pursue her Olympic dreams with the U.S. National Team.
The Red Rocks returned just 10 routines from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA Semifinals.
The Utes next compete in the Best of Utah meet against BYU, Utah State and Southern Utah at the Maverik Center Saturday, January 11.