SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah gymnastics team rebounded from its first regular season loss in nearly two years with its best performance of the season.
The No. 6 Red Rocks hit the 197-mark for the first time of the 2021 season Saturday afternoon, topping Arizona 197.075-195.650 in the team’s home opener Huntsman Center. The Utes claimed event titles on all four events in the dominant win over the Wildcats to get the conference season started.
“We felt as a staff that it was a nice, steady meet from start to finish,” said head coach Tom Farden. “We know we left some tenths out there in terms of detail work. Being able to test our depth on several events and exchange some athletes on events was also a nice treat. We challenged the team to take this opportunity and match it with the gymnastics they have been doing in practice. I think they did a great job of that.”
Utah started the meet on a high note after the Utes debuted Yurchenko 1.5s from Lucy Stanhope and Jaedyn Rucker to bring the rotation total to four 10.0 start values. After Maile O’Keefe and Cristal Isa began the set with a 9.75 and 9.775, respectively, Stanhope rattled off a huge 1.5 for her debut that went on to score a 9.825. Cammy Hall and Alexia Burch tallied 9.90s for a share of the event win with their 1.5s. Rucker rounded out the vaulters with her 1.5 debut, scoring a 9.875. The season-high 49.275 on vault gave Utah a 0.325 lead over Arizona heading into the second rotation.
“The biggest takeaway of the day was that we had been waiting for that moment where we could debut those vaults we have been talking about,” said Farden on the vault lineup. “It was nice to see the four 10.0 vaults and we feel that will bode well for us down the road.”
Paulson once again led Utah off on bars (9.775) and was followed by Alani Sabado’s season-high 9.875. Burch also posted a season high on bars with a 9.85 to lead into another season high performance – this time from O’Keefe. O’Keefe scored a meet-high 9.90 for her first bars win of the season. Emilie LeBlanc collected a 9.80 and Isa finished the rotation with a 9.875. At the halfway point, Utah led 98.550-97.725 after the 49.275 on bars.
On the beam, O’Keefe pulled in her second event title of the day with a 9.90 as the fifth Red Rock up. Paulson rounded out the group with a 9.725. Utah totaled 49.200 on beam to extend the lead and have a comfortable lead heading into floor.
Sydney Soloski, took home another floor title with a season-high score of 9.925.
Utah posted a meet-high event score of 49.325 on floor to wrap up the first Pac-12 meet of the season and win 197.075-195.650 over Arizona.
Burch won her first event title of the season after earning a share of the vault title with Hall, who tallied her second vault win of the year. O’Keefe won the bars title outright and earned a share of the beam title. The sophomore boasts a team-high six victories this year. Soloski won her second-straight floor title.
Utah will host Washington in a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 title meet next Saturday, Jan. 30. The Utes and Huskies will compete at 8 p.m.