SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah gymnastics team is coming off a 3rd place finish at nationals last year, and they think they can do better this year.

The 3rd-ranked Red Rocks begin the 2023 season Friday at home against #6 LSU.

“We have almost all our routines from last year,” said sophomore Grace McCallum. “We only lost a couple, so I’m excited for this year. I think we have big things ahead and a lot in store for us.”

“The nucleus is back,” said head coach Tom Farden. “We’ve got great senior leadership, good chemistry in the gym. We’re really optimistic about this year and excited for it.”

The Red Rocks have the numbers on their side. They are 61-6 all-time in season openers, but they know they will have their hands full with the 6th-ranked Tigers.

“It’s really super exciting to go up against a top team like them,” said senior Jaedyn Rucker. “We’re just really excited because it’s going to bring a lot of big gymnastics.”

“It will be a good tell-tale of how we handle pressure, and it will be fun to have a good atmosphere in the Huntsman Center,” added senior Maile O’Keefe. “LSU is also a very fun team and they bring a good challenge.”

“The one thing when you start with as opponent like LSU is you get to see where you match up really quickly,” Farden said. “The other thing is, we have a fan base that gets really excited about quality gymnastics, and we know LSU can bring that.”

The Red Rocks can bring that as well. They’ve been working hard in the preseason, and they’re anxious to see how that hard work will pay off in a meet.

“I think we just need to go out there and do what we’ve been doing in practice, because we’ve been training really well, and not thinking about the outcome of the meet,” said McCallum. “If we just do our best that’s really all we can ask for.”

Utah and LSU will compete at 6:45 p.m. Friday night in the Huntsman Center.