In their season opener, the Utah Red Rocks took on Michigan in the Huntsman Center on Saturday, Jan. 7. After a close battle, the Red Rocks took the victory over their opponent, finishing the meet 196.625-195.525.
“It was an incredible night,” said co-head coach Tom Farden. “There was some things that we will strive to fix, but we, as a coaching staff, are really happy with the team. It mimics really close what we do in practice. They were very head strong, calm, confident, and [they] moved well tonight. Just great demeanor by everyone.”
In all-around scoring, freshman MyKayla Skinner took first with a score of 39.550, and sophomore MaKenna Merrell followed closely behind with a 39.425.
“I think [my first meet] went really well,” Skinner said. “Just getting this experience with all of them had been so exciting and something different for me. I can’t explain the feelings out there — it just felt so amazing. It was just the greatest feeling.”
In the first round of the meet, Utah took to the vault while Michigan started off at the bars. Skinner led the pack with an impressive score of 9.9, followed by Merrell with a 9.85.
While Utah was busy on the vault, Michigan seemed to struggle on the bars, with multiple falls. But by the end of the event, Michigan only trailed the Red Rocks by .8 as Utah held a solid 49.1 score.
As the team switched events, Michigan started to find its balance again, and it managed to surpass Utah in the vault event, finishing with a 49.125. Utah, however, had an even stronger bars event. Skinner lead again with another 9.9 followed by teammate Tiffani Lewis with a 9.875, and the Red Rocks finished with a 49.275, and they were still holding the lead.
During beam, senior Baely Rowe had a strong routine that scored her the highest score of the meet with a 9.925. Following behind her was teammate Skinner with a 9.85, and Utah finished the beam with a score of 49.225. But while Utah continued on the beam, Michigan put up some solid scores during its floor set, inching closer to the Red Rocks.
In the last rotation of the meet, both Michigan and Utah struggled to find the balance needed to get a perfect score. Merrell finished her routine with a score of 9.9 but a few of her teammates stumbled, bringing the average score down. Skinner brought it back with her routine, and she finished with a 9.9.
Michigan also fell victim to the stumbling as one of its gymnasts fell off the beam, causing the other performers to step it up. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any time for Michigan to gain the points back, and the meet finished with Utah as its victor.
“[Today] was a great start,” Rowe said. “We always talk about our first couple of meets — we don’t want to be perfect, because if we try to be perfect then it doesn’t go right, so we just went out there, did our gymnastics like the way we have been practicing, and we had fun. We really enjoyed our time out there.”
Up next for the Red Rocks, they will compete in their first away meet this Friday, Jan. 13 as they take on in-state rival BYU. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.