Over the weekend the No. 2 University of Utah gymnastics team took 2nd place in the Elevate the State meet in a nonconference Pac-12 preview. It took a while to get final scores — Stanford had already left to catch a flight home by the time they were announced — but No. 4 UCLA earned first place with a 197.200 score. Utah followed with a score of 196.975. In third and fourth place were Washington (195.725) and Stanford (195.350).
MyKayla Skinner, who recently won her 9th Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week Award, won the all-around with a 39.70. She scored a 9.95 on the vault and uneven bars, 9.975 on the floor and 9.825 on the balance beam. MaKenna Merrell-Giles finished third in the all-around with a score of 39.45, and she tied for second on floor with a 9.95 score.
The Red Rocks were able to hit 24-24 routines and gain experience in a podium-style event early in their season. Utah shined in three events and struggled most with the beam. Beam was an area of concern heading into the meet because of results in previous meets.
“We do have good beamers, and I have some things to improve,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “But for right now, I think that we aren’t fall[ing], we’re just having some deductions, and depending on where we are and who the judging group is, there can be heftier deductions than others. But as I look around the country and some of the skills being done, I feel like we’re hanging right in there. We need to continue to execute and work with [a] touch more confidence up there.”
Kari Lee, who holds the anchor spot on beam, was able to score a 9.80. Skinner was the only other gymnast with a higher score than Lee. She earned a 9.825 score. The Red Rocks’ overall score on the beam routine was a 48.800. They fell into third place after this rotation.
“Beam is always one of those events that is kind of shaky, just in general,” Lee said. “You’re walking, you’re flipping on a four-inch balance beam. And I think just for us in general right now, we kind of just haven’t found our mojo. In practices we do so well, we hit our routines, but we just haven’t hit the mojo yet in a meet setting, which obviously takes a little time. But I think if we keep doing what we’ve been doing at practice, it’ll show eventually on the competition floor.”
After dusting the beam performances off, the Red Rocks were able to battle back. Utah had the highest scores out of all the teams in floor and vault.
The Utes posted a 49.425 on vault and they had a 49.450 performance on floor. Vault performances were led by Skinner, who earned a score of 9.50, and Merrell-Giles, who posted a vault performance of 9.90. The two also led the competition on the floor. Skinner finished with a score of 9.975 and Merrell-Giles had a score of 9.950 to help boost the Red Rocks up to a second place finish.
The Red Rocks will next be in action on Friday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.