In her first year with the University of Utah gymnastics team, freshman MyKayla Skinner has made plenty of memories she will never forget, but one stands out above the rest; walking on the Huntsman floor for the first time.
Skinner thinks her first season as a Red Rock has been one of her favorite experiences in her entire gymnastics career, and she has been dreaming of the opportunity to compete in college since she was a little girl.
“I finally came and I’m living my dream,” Skinner said. “To have this experience and being able to do so well, it has been so fun, and it has been such an amazing journey.”
According to co-head coach Megan Marsden, Skinner has exceeded the team’s expectations by a longshot. She transitioned well into college after missing the first portion of the fall semester, and she has fully embraced the team. Not only that, she continues to bring it day-in and day-out for the Red Rocks.
“The fact that she has had a chance to experience college gymnastics has really helped her relish in the team concept and that has been a lot of fun for me,” Marsden said. “It’s icing on a cake. Even with the level of gymnastics she has been in, the team camaraderie in gymnastics is hard to beat.”
Ending her season on a high note after scoring a 10 on her floor routine against Stanford and at the Pac-12 Championships, Skinner added that icing on the cake when she scored a 39.725 to place first in the all-around at the conference championship. Skinner had a near-perfect freshman year, but she wasn’t the only one to have a fairytale season.
As the only senior on the team, Baely Rowe was the only Red Rock who experienced those final moments on the floor of the Huntsman Center. The end has been bittersweet for Rowe, and while she was nervous about looking for that perfect ending to her collegiate career, that’s not what it was all about.
“Each and every week, Tom [Farden] and Megan reminded me that I couldn’t have that Cinderella ending,” Rowe said. “I think just going into each week knowing that I’ve been prepared, it has been great. I was just having fun and enjoying the moment.”
Marsden’s advice to Rowe about not worrying too much did not go unused, and Marsden feels that Rowe got her fairytale ending after she scored a 9.975 on her final floor routine in her last regular meet at home against Stanford, and she finished scoring second behind Skinner in all-around at the Pac-12 Championships with 37.525.
“[Former Red Rock] Breanna Hughes was a great example for [Rowe],” Marsden said. “Hughes had an incredible senior season, and she talked a lot about how she decided she would enjoy every moment and not hurry it along or worry about the future. She just wanted to stay in the moment, and I think that is what Baely did.”
Along with ending the season on high note, both Rowe and Skinner were named regular season All-Americans by the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches for Women. Skinner was honored the first-team award in the all-around, vault and floor, and Rowe received the honor in all-round in addition to making the second-team on the beam.
Skinner is happy for both herself and Rowe because she knows they both earned it, but she stills looks up to the freshman for her hard work.
“Those honors are something that we all strive for and to do it next to MyKayla, who is second in the nation [in all-around], is truly amazing because I look up to her almost every day,” Rowe said. “She makes me work even harder and to be right beside her every step of the way is amazing.”