SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes gymnastics team is ranked second in the entire nation, and a big reason why is freshman Grace McCallum.
Fresh off winning a silver medal at the Olympics in Tokyo last summer, McCallum has fit right in with the Red Rocks.
“The Olympics had always been my long term goal,” McCallum said. “But I never thought of what I wanted to do after that. I knew I was going to go to college and be a college gymnast, but I didn’t know what I wanted to accomplish in college so I’m slowly trying to figure that out.”
Utah head coach Tom Farden is happy to help her with that process. From the moment he first saw McCallum, he knew how talented she was and that she could be special.
“From the onset of seeing her at her first practice, I was convinced that we’ve got to get this kid,” Farden said. “Through the recruiting process, going to see her at many meets, and her coming on her visit, we ended up with her.”
McCallum now has two college meets under her belt. The first one wasn’t great, but she showed what she’s capable of last Friday against Oklahoma when had three scores over 9.9 and she won the all-around. Utah put up the highest score in the nation so far this year with a 197.775.
“I wanted to come back stronger last weekend and show them like I can do it,” she said. “I’m really happy with my performance, and I hope to keep improving throughout the season.”
“That was one of the most intriguing things about recruiting an athlete like Grace, their ability to adjust,” Farden said. “So the adjustments she made from week one to week two, they’re not surprising to me.”
McCallum’s high score came on the floor, where she notched a 9.975. As incredibly athletic as McCallum is on her jumps, she doesn’t like dancing.
“I wasn’t good at dancing, and I didn’t like expressing anything.” McCallum said. “So I would actually go to a dance studio for my floor routines and have a dance teacher work with me on that.”
And it is paying off. McCallum has been doing gymnastics since she was four years old, and she hopes she still has some good years left in her.
“Gymnasts definitely peak a lot young, like 14 to 18.,” McCallum said. After that, it’s a little harder. I feel like that’s your prime time, but I’m hoping that these next four years will also be a good prime time for me too.
McCallum and the Red Rocks next host Arizona State Friday night at 7:00 p.m at the Huntsman Center.