Over the weekend, the University of Utah gymnastics team competed on the road against Arizona State in Tempe on Saturday, Feb. 25. With a strong start to the meet, the Red Rocks defeated ASU 197.6-194.85 in the Sun Devils arena.
Since the team was on the road, the Red Rocks started off the meet on bars, and this set a competitive tone for the entire squad.
The first three gymnasts on bars from Utah finished their routines scoring a couple of 9.875’s and a 9.95, giving sophomore Kari Lee the difficult task of following them up, however, she stepped up to the plate. She executed a solid routine and a near perfect dismount, and Lee received a final score of 9.975, a career best and the highest in the event.
“It was just like any other performance,” Lee said. “The only difference was I actually stuck my dismount. Tom [Farden] is always like, ‘You got to put the exclamation point on that routine and sticking your dismount is putting the exclamation point.’ So that was the only difference.”
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing on bars for Lee. According to Lee, bars has never been her strongest event and it was the only lineup she didn’t make her freshman year. Lee has had some struggles this year, she had a mishap on bars during the meet against Cal, and she to received a low score.
In spite of that, with a completely new routine, her diligence in her work, and being consistent in practice, Lee turned bars from one of her weakest events to one of her strongest.
“I think that was a turning point for me,” Lee said. “Yes, for a couple of months it was rocky — I didn’t start in lineups — but with two girls out who were on bar lineup, I knew I had to step up to the plate because we needed girls out there.”
Scoring a 9.975 this past weekend, a career best, was a surreal moment for Lee, an Arizona native. Having over 200 people supporting and cheering her on, Lee was proud of her accomplishment, and so was co-head coach Megan Marsden.
“Kari was absolutely in her element because she was there amongst all of her friends and family,” Marsden said. “Bars has been that one event that she has been trying to improve in her career, and she did the routine the best she has done in competition so far. Her dismount is brand new and to hit it as well as she did, it was definitely was the best one in competition.”
Not only did Lee score a career best, she also received a 10 from a judge. Not thinking much about scoring going into the event, Lee just knew that if she put that exclamation point on the dismount, she would get a high score.
“I didn’t really think about it after my routine [either] as I got the 10 from a judge,” Lee said. “I just thought I did a normal routine and stuck a dismount, and I got a good score.”