The No. 3 University of Utah gymnastics team will head to sunny California to take on the No. 2 UCLA Bruins on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m.
The two rivals competed against each other earlier in the season in the Elevate the Stage meet in Reno, Nevada, where the Bruins finished on top as the Red Rocks finished in second place. The Red Rocks aren’t focused on what previously happened. Instead, they are looking ahead.
“This is a new week … there might even be changes in the lineup at this point,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “We don’t usually reflect back that much. It’s more about what’s our goal at hand this week and this team right now. We’ve faltered just a little as a group [last] Friday night with less sticks and a couple falls, so I feel like our goal this week is to get back on track with 24 out of 24 routines hit and more sticks.”
The Red Rocks are ranked in the top-10 in the nation on each event. They come in at the No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault, No. 4 on bars and No. 8 on beam.
Between the Red Rocks and the Bruins, they both have combined to win five of the past six Pac-12 championships. Junior Kari Lee is looking forward to the road atmosphere she will finally get to experience in Los Angeles because the last time the Red Rocks traveled to California to take on the Bruins, she was unable to compete because of an injury.
“UCLA is always a great rival and they always bring great gymnastics,” Lee said. “They have a great crowd and a good student section, so I mean, we’re excited.”
During the past few meets, the Red Rocks haven’t hit all 24 routines or performed like they’ve wanted. Marsden knows that this is the meet for her girls to show that they can hit all their routines against a talented team.
“We have to do that, in a hostile atmosphere, in somebody else’s arena, where the crowd won’t be for us and on equipment that we may not be as familiar with,” Marsden said. “So all those things will be things that test.”
Lee believes the Red Rocks must work on the little things in order to help them leave California with a win.
“Every single week we come in and focus on working on the little details,” Lee said. “Sometimes we kind of get ahead of ourselves a little bit and that’s why you might not see a stick or a hit handstand or a little bobble here and there. We really try to come in and dial in on those little details, so when there’s a lot going on around us, we can really lean back on those little things we worked on that whole week.”