SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – =What a treat for gymnastics fans this weekend, as Utah, BYU, Utah State and Southern Utah will all compete in the same meet for the first time since 1993, as the inaugural Best of Utah gymnastics meet comes to the Maverik Center Saturday night.
“It’s going to showcase four awesome Division One programs within our own state, which is really cool because we’re a pretty small populated state,,” said Utah head coach Tom Farden. “For us to have four strong gymnastics programs speaks volumes for the popularity of gymnastics in the state of Utah. We are definitely hoping that each school brings a good contingency of fans to this event.”
What makes this meet extra important for the 4th-ranked Red Rocks is it will take place on an elevated podium, something they won’t compete on again until the Pac-12 Championships.
“The podium just makes everything a little bit more bouncy,” said Utes gymnast Sydney Soloski. “So you have to adjust a little bit. Floor I think is easier on a podium because you have that extra bounce. But if you don’t know how to control it, then that can really not work in your favor.”
“Especially for our newcomers and younger girls who haven’t been on podium in a couple years or haven’t been on podium at all,” added Utes gymnast Kim Tessen. “It will be a really good practice for Pac-12 and postseason.”
The last three years, the Utes have relied on MyKayla Skinner and MaKenna Merrell-Giles as their anchors, consistently producing 9.9’s. But with Merrell-Giles graduating and Skinner competing for a spot on the 2020 Olympic team, Tessen could be that new star, as evidenced by her winning or tying for three events in last week’s season-opening victory against Kentucky.
“I feel like I surprised myself a little bit,” Tessen said. “I’ve never really put together a full meet like that. But it felt really good and I’ve been working really hard in training.”
“Kim was incredible,” Farden added. “She’s worked diligently through the preseason. Obviously we’re super proud of her, so we do think she is somebody who can step into some of those roles.”
The Best of Utah will begin at 7:00 at the Maverik Center Saturday night.