Friday night was a tough pill to swallow for the Utah gymnastics team, where things didn’t go according to plan at the NCAA National Semifinals in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Red Rocks, who came into their semifinal group after taking first in the Salt Lake Regional, finished dead last in the evening session due to big mistakes, costing them of any hope of reaching the Super Six.
Co-head coach Tom Farden was obviously disappointed that the Red Rocks’ 2016 season ended in such an unwanted manner, especially after having some big-time performances over the course of the campaign.
“We had a great season overall and a rough night tonight,” Farden said. “I feel especially bad for the seniors since they don’t get another shot at it.”
Things started well for the Red Rocks on Sunday when they were handed the favored Olympic order in their group, but things fell apart on the one event that has cost the Utes many opportunities during the season: beam.
Falls by Kailah Delaney and Samantha Partyka at the beginning of the third rotation cost the Utes any chance of advancing to the big show the next day. Being eliminated from the Super Six, the team was devastated.
Being such a young squad, mistakes were always likely, but is especially unfortunate that they happened during the biggest meet of the year. Despite the falls from the two top gymnasts, the team continued to encourage them and the rest of the team to finish out strong.
Sabrina Schwab, who was competing in front of all her friends and family, being from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, feels that the members of this team have great trust in one another when competing, even if mistakes happen.
“We just have a ton of chemistry between all of us,” Schwab said. “We truly trust everybody in every event. We trust that they will do a great routine. So just knowing that everybody believes in you — it gives us confidence to do the best that we can. We all love each other, so we believe in each other as well.”
Even though the team’s trust was tested during beam, the Red Rocks reclaimed their nerves and finished off in the strongest way possible during the team’s last event, floor.
Farden and fellow co-head coach Megan Marsden had a big task on their hands trying to reclaim the group after the big blow that was suffered and succeeded in making sure to leave their mistakes in the past.
“I told them, ‘What’s done is done,’” Farden said. “‘We have one more event. Let’s show some pride and go out and attack it.’ And we did. We had a great floor set.”
Utah’s impressive floor set was the one highlight of the night to forget. The Red Rocks were capable of controlling their emotions and finished strong on their last routines of the year. It shows signs of hope for this young team that will only get better from this point forward.
The Red Rocks learned a valuable lesson on Friday that all the gymnasts that are staying on for next season will take with them, which is to not quit when all hope is lost. This loss will stir motivation within the team and coaching staff to do even better next season.
After a long campaign of ups and downs, the Red Rocks can say that they accomplished more than what was ever expected of them. Nationals is a testament to Utah’s dedication, and Farden and Co. will use this lesson as a means to advance and win as much as possible in 2017.