Going in as the top seed at the 2017 NCAA Fayetteville Regional, the No. 4 University of Utah gymnastics team headed to Arkansas to compete against No. 9 Denver, No. 16 California, No. 21 Auburn, Arkansas and Central Michigan. After plenty of back-and-forth between Utah and Denver, it was the Red Rocks who prevailed and won the meet with a score of 197.15.
Freshman MyKayla Skinner led the meet in all-around, and she came in first with a score of 39.525. Senior Baely Rowe came in third behind Denver with a 39.425, and sophomore MaKenna Merrell finished in fifth with a 39.225.
Starting the meet on bars, Skinner set the tone with a 9.875, but it was sophomore Kari Lee who dominated the event with a 9.9. This was the lone event Lee competed in as she tweaked her ankle in practice earlier this week. The Red Rocks continued to put up solid scores throughout the first event as both Rowe and junior Tiffani Lewis finished their routines with a 9.85. By the end of the first rotation, the Red Rocks had a running score of 49.275.
During the second rotation the Red Rocks had some difficulties on beam that put them in second behind Denver. Merrell had a mishap during her routine that scored her a 9.7, but Utah managed to keep putting up solid scores. Sophomore Shannon McNatt, who was filling in for Lee, was competing for the first time collegiately on beam, earned a 9.9, and junior Maddy Stover scored a 9.825.
“We were so proud of Shannon,” Stover said in a press release. “She has persevered for two years not getting to compete much, and she never quit. When she stuck that dismount, we were almost brought to tears.”
By the time each team performed in two events Utah found itself trailing Denver by .125.
After a bye, Merrell bounced back on the floor exercise when she scored a 9.9. Rowe put up another 9.9 on her floor routine, and Skinner led the event with a near perfect routine that gave her a 9.95. After the third event, Utah took the lead over Denver with a running score of 147.9.
In the last event of the meet, Utah had a strong finish on vault as Rowe and sophomore Macey Roberts scored a 9.825, and Merrell and Lewis put up a 9.85. Skinner led the event with a 9.9, and by the end of the meet the Red Rocks were the victors.
Up next, the Red Rocks will head to St. Louis, Mo. to compete at the 2017 NCAA National Championship. The meet is scheduled to begin on Friday, April 14.