After taking first at the 2017 Pac-12 Championships, the University of Utah gymnastics team was deemed the best in its conference.
Along with being Pac-12 Champions, the Red Rocks were awarded more honors as freshman MyKayla Skinner, sophomore MaKenna Merrell, junior Tiffani Lewis and senior Baely Rowe were all named to the All-Pac-12 Conference team this past week.
While Lewis noted it took her off-guard, Rowe said it is something that she and her team have always strived for — to be a part of that first team in the Pac-12.
“To be recognized for that, it just shows that we have worked hard and we are getting up there and competing with confidence,” Rowe said. “I think it is another thing to add to my senior year that was truly amazing.”
Adding this recent honor, Rowe has seven all-conference awards while Lewis is up to three. As for Skinner and Merrell, this was the first time both gymnasts were selected.
“This just shows the depth we have, and the great gymnasts and the great talent that we have,” Rowe said. “I think it is really cool that we had four of us being named All-Pac-12.”
Leading the league with five awards, Rowe was named first team in all-around and beam, and second team on vault, bars and floor. Rowe is also tied for second in the Pac-12 in all-around and sits at No. 5 nationally.
Skinner won first team honors in four categories — all-around, vault, bars and floor. Not only is Skinner one of the top-ranked gymnasts in the Pac-12, but with her titles in all-around, vault and floor, she is ranked No. 2 in all-around and No. 1 on floor nationally.
This isn’t the first time Utes have been given these honors. In 2016, former Red Rocks Breanna Hughes, Kailah Delaney and Kassandra Lopez, along with Rowe and junior Maddy Stover, were named to the first team. Lewis, sophomore Sabrina Schwab and former Red Rock Samantha Partyka joined their teammates on the second team.
Despite receiving more honors in 2016, the team struggled at the Pac-12 Championship, and it came up short in a few events as it finished second at the end of the meet. Despite having fewer girls this time around, Lewis believes that the team has come a long way in just one short year.
“This summer we worked really hard on finding ways to fix the things we had trouble with last year,” Lewis said. “These awards kind of shows that our work is paying off.”