Every meet the University of Utah gymnastics team competes in presents a new challenge, and this week’s opponent is no different. On Friday, Feb. 9, the No. 2 Red Rocks will take on the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center on Throwback night. This will be the last time the Red Rocks compete at home until mid-March.
The Red Rocks moved up a spot in the national rankings after setting a team-high score this past week. MyKayla Skinner credits the the team’s success to a different training approach.
“It [has] been nice to have down time here and there and then come back and build it back up,” Skinner said. “I think last year we kind of took some time off, but I know some of us were injured, so that was kind of hard to have to keep pushing through those injuries and everything.”
Co-head coach Megan Marsden explained the small differences the Red Rocks have made have allowed the girls to stick routines more often, and they’re also performing with more confidence.
The team watches film each week of the routines they previously did to figure out how each member can improve in the gym and be ready for the upcoming meet.
“It’s critical, it’s essential,” Marsden said. “Most of them are spending time watching it back in our aerobics room, we have it up on the computers, and if they haven’t, we coaches go through their routine with them.”
The Red Rocks are currently ranked in the top-10 in all four events. The team ranks No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault, No. 3 on bars and No. 9 on beam.
MaKenna Merrell-Giles, who won Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week, has continued to build on her career-season. Merrell-Giles is ranked No. 5 nationally on floor and No. 4 on vault. Skinner is ranked No. 4 in the nation in the all-around, and she is in the anchor spot in all four events, a role where she can bring the heat.
“There is always pressure no matter what, you want to win and you want to get that high team all-around score,” Skinner said. “It’s fun to have more people be able to build that higher score. Last year we had injuries so it was kind of hard, like the pressure was a little more because I know I had to get those scores to help the team.”
Friday’s meet begins at 7 p.m.