SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Utah gymnastics team makes it to the NCAA Nationals.
The Red Rocks are the only program in the country that has qualified for the Nationals in all 42 years of the sport’s history.
The Utes will try to make it 43 in a row when they host the NCAA Regionals this Saturday at the Huntsman Center.
“Oh it’s amazing,” sophomore gymnast MyKayla Skinner said about the Utes winning tradition. “Just coming into the gym everyday and looking at those banners that are hanging up. Just to be able to remind you that you are that team, and we’re going to go out there and do like we’ve done every other year. It’s just so amazing to be a part of this legacy.”
“We work very hard to keep our standards even higher than that,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “But I do know that it’s a very difficult task, and there have been great programs that have not made it to Nationals.”
The 4th-ranked Utes will compete against #9 Cal, #16 Auburn, #21 BYU, Stanford and Southern Utah Saturday afternoon. The top two teams advance to the national championships in St. Louis. The Utes are hoping that competing at the Huntsman Center will give them a boost.
“I’m so excited to be back at home,” said junior MaKenna Merrell-Giles. “My freshman year, we also hosted and it was so fun. It’s a little different than a home meet obviously, because we have the six teams and the two byes. It’s just fun to be back at home.”
“It’s so special,” added Skinner. “I’m so grateful that we get to be back in the Huntsman with all those fans. The other teams love coming out here, and I think it will be a really good meet. It’s good competition and some really good teams coming out.”
While the Utes are the favorite to win the meet, Cal actually beat Utah in Berkeley earlier this season.
“I do know that there will be some competition in our arena and some great gymnastics,” Marsden said. “So, we need to not rest on our laurels. We need to come in ready to fight. Of course, it’s about placement. You have to be first or second place, so you can’t absolutely guarantee that, but I feel like we start our year with standards so high, that we’ve been working on being in a place to move on as long as our athletes perform well.”
The NCAA Regionals will begin at 4:00 p.m. Saturday at the Huntsman Center.