Back at home after a 2nd place finish at the Elevate the Stage meet this past weekend, the No. 2 University of Utah gymnastics team will host the No. 25 Oregon State Beavers on Friday, Jan. 19. The Red Rocks will open up their Pac-12 schedule at 7 p.m.
“We’re so excited. We love home meets,” said junior Kari Lee. “Oregon State is always a good competitor. We’re always neck to neck with them whenever we go to them in Corvallis, and whenever they come to us it’s really fun. We’re excited to be back on our home turf.”
For the first time ever, the Red Rocks will have a “Ute Proud” meet to celebrate the Ute Tribe. They will be debuting new leotards inspired by the vibrant colors and bead work from the Ute Tribe’s authentic regalia along with matching hair ribbons.
“This week the girls are really excited about the Ute Proud meet that we have not had to this point. Some of the other programs have, and they’re very excited about the leotard,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “In a performance subjective sport, what you wear and the look you put on is a part of it, and I think our girls are really excited about debuting something that the Ute Tribe is excited about.”
The Beavers opened up their season last week with a win over Pittsburgh where Sabrina Gill tied for the all-around. The Red Rocks are ranked No. 1 on both vault and floor. They are currently tied for third on bars in the country.
“It’s going to be exciting to see what they have to bring because they’re always great competition throughout the year,” Lewis said. “We haven’t gotten to see them yet. I haven’t seen any videos or anything so it will be kind of cool to see how they do.”
The Red Rocks are led by sophomore MyKayla Skinner who has won the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week award two weeks in a row, tying the Pac-12 record. Skinner won the All-Around at the Elevate the Stage meet and she is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation. MaKenna Merrell-Giles is adding to the competition, and she finished third in the All-Around at the same meet. Merrell-Giles is ranked sixth in the All-Around.
“What I love is that MaKenna welcomed Micky [MyKayla] into our team with open arms,” Marsden said. “I watched her build some confidence watching MyKayla come in, and I think that McKenna felt like ‘Okay we can really win some stuff now [that] we’ve got her on our team.’ I don’t know if she thought about how it might challenge her to move to another level, but she sure wasn’t afraid of having a newcomer come in and possibly take lineup spots, but she was thinking of it strictly from a look what we can do now.”