SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah gymnastics team found out why Oklahoma is the top-ranked team and defending national champions.
The 5th-ranked Red Rocks struggled to find momentum throughout the night, ultimately falling at #1 Oklahoma on Sunday night 197.925-197.275.
Utah got off to a slow start on bars, causing the Red Rocks to fall behind five tenths after the rotation. The Utes began the uneven bars with a 9.825 from Amelie Morgan and a 9.85 from Abby Brenner, but the momentum couldn’t be sustained. O’Keefe tallied a 9.85 in the fourth spot after the Utes were looking to drop the 9.675 from Sage Thompson the routine before. Cristal Isa recorded a 9.875 to begin building, but Grace McCallum could only add a 9.75 in the anchor spot to end the rotation at a 49.150 compared to Oklahoma’s explosive 49.650 on vault.
The Ute vaulters picked up the pace after posting a season-high 49.525 on vault to make up some ground in the deficit. Jillian Hoffman led off the group with a 9.825 before Brenner followed with a 9.875. Lucy Stanhope added a 9.80, but the score went on to be dropped after the final three Red Rocks posted a 9.90 or higher. Makenna Smith recorded a career-high 9.95 to spark the lineup and Rucker followed with a stick of her own to earn a season-high 9.975. McCallum anchored the team with a 9.90.
Trailing by four tenths, Paulson looked to continue momentum for the Red Rocks and began the floor set with a 9.825. Smith rounded her solid night with a 9.875 in the second position, Kara Eaker’s but season debut on floor had a mishap on the first landing and she went on to score a 9.675. Jaylene Gilstrap put the lineup back on track with a 9.85 before Rucker added a 9.725. McCallum recorded a team-best 9.925 to lift the rotation score to a 49.200.
With Oklahoma leading 148.425-147.875, Morgan started off the beam team with a season-high 9.90 to try to find a spark in the final rotation. McCallum followed with a 9.775, but a fall from Paulson the next routine caused the Utes to be near-perfect if there was any hope of a comeback. Eaker bounced back with a 9.90, while Isa followed with a 9.85. Although the meet was out of reach for the Red Rocks, O’Keefe put on a show in the anchor spot and earned a 9.975 to see Utah end beam with a 49.400.
Utah returns to the Jon M. Huntsman Center next Saturday, Jan. 28, to host Washington for its annual Character Day at 1 p.m. MT.