Gymnastics: Stover’s ‘Beaming’ Relationship With Lofgren Improves Competitive Edge

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Over the last weekend in the Bay Area, the Utah gymnastics team came home with a dominating win over Stanford that has helped this young team hold its ground at the No. 5 spot in the national rankings.

Though many of the Utah gymnasts had great performances on certain events, Maddy Stover stole the show with her spectacular routine on the balance beam, earning a 9.975 overall score and even a perfect 10.0 from one of the judges.

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It was a big day for the California native, and co-head coach Megan Marsden, who was bed-ridden at the team’s hotel due to the flu, was disappointed she wasn’t there to celebrate Stover’s accomplishment.

“That was probably my biggest regret was to miss her [routine],” Marsden said. “When I saw that she got a 9.975, I was bummed that I wasn’t there in person with her when that happened.”

In her sophomore year, Stover has been given the mighty task of being the anchor on the beam. Even though she’s had her ups and downs, she has finally shown her true potential in her favorite event this past Saturday.

“Over the course of the season I have started out really strong and then fell at one of the meets, but I didn’t let that tamper up my mental approach and just continued to plug and chug at the gym,” Stover said. “So it paid off well last weekend.”

Even though a lot of her success can be credited to her hard work in the gym, Stover also credits her current teammates, and even old faces of the program who continue to inspire her. One of those old faces is Utah fan favorite Mary Beth Lofgren.

Lofgren, who Stover and the rest of the team call MB, was a sensation during her tenure with the Red Rocks and helped Stover become more confident on a very difficult event during her anxious first year at the U.

“When I committed to Utah and was getting to know the girls on the team, I’ve always looked up to [Lofgren] as someone that carried herself well in the gym and was also phenomenal on the beam,” Stover said.

Being a fifth-year senior, Lofgren wasn’t a teammate of Stover’s, but as one of the student coaches in 2015, she built a relationship with Stover over the event they both love, and they have been close ever sense.

“I’ve kept a really good relationship with [Lofgren] even though I wasn’t on the team with her at the time,” Stover said. “She’s a local girl, so she always comes to the meets, and having this cool bond over gymnastics and other things she has in common with me is really great.”

Now working toward her degree at nursing school, Lofgren attends Utah meets on a consistent basis and always loves watching Stover when it’s her turn up at the beam.

“She’s just awesome,” Lofgren said. “I love it that she has incredible love for beam as much as I always have. It’s really exciting to both enjoy it while watching her routine. She is always exciting.”

Lofgren also remembers how hard of a worker Stover was during her freshman year, something that reminded her of herself when she first joined the Red Rocks.

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“Maddy is a natural beamer,” Lofgren said. “If you give her a correction, she will fix it just like that. She’s a really motivated gymnast ever since she joined the team. She’s also a great example for me with being a really hard worker. That’s something that I see in her that will make her even better.”

Marsden had also taken notice of their friendship, since she has been close to both of them throughout the years.

“When [Lofgren] helped me with the beam during the meets, one of the things we’ve benefited on was her relationship with the girls,” Marsden said. “She’s was just really good as a teammate before and was a great student coach last year, so obviously [she and Stover] became connected last year since beam was both their favorite events.”

Marsden also feels the connection they share. Being an expert on the beam as well when she was a Red Rock gymnast, she feels that every girl on that event helps build friendships.

“I relate to Maddy and Lofgren about beam that I can’t relate to with some other girls,” Marsden said. “I love beam, they love beam, we get it and that makes us beamers together.”

The Red Rocks now hope Stover can keep building on her great routine against the Cardinal, and Lofgren will be watching closely, cheering her on in the stands wherever the team goes.

Stover also hopes to be in the same position Lofgren was when she left the team, being one of the best on beam in Red Rock history.

c.marquez@dailyutahchronicle.com

@chad_marquez

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