The University of Utah gymnastics team is back in sunny California. The No. 4 Red Rocks take on the No. 21 California Bears on Sunday at 12 p.m. MT.
The Red Rocks fell one spot in the rankings last week after an upset win over No. 3 UCLA where they finished with a 197.550. The team is using that high score as motivation as it heads into the part of the season where road scores determine qualification for regionals.
Co-head coach Megan Marsden hopes the team can be at its best once postseason hits, so road meets help the Red Rocks gain a mentality that they need to be able to perform anywhere and anytime.
“Whether it’s in the confines of the Huntsman Center or somewhere else, a big crowd, or a small crowd, all of that, they still need to be able to do their thing,” Marsden said.
MyKayla Skinner, who won the Pac-12 Gymnast of the week award last week is ranked No. 2 in the nation in the all-around. Makenna Merrell-Giles and Kari Lee are ranked 10th and 11th in the all-around for the Red Rocks. Utah ranks first on floor, second on vault, sixth on bars and seventh nationally on beam.
Skinner knows each week is crucial if the Red Rocks want to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves.
“I think it’s very important just going into these next couple of meets because we kinda dropped down a little bit and we’ve kinda had rough patches in a couple of the meets,” Skinner said. “I think as long as we keep building from here, we’ll definitely get those high team scores and that’ll just build us up going into postseason.”
More than halfway through the season, the Red Rocks know they are capable of being in the top three spots by the end of the year, because Marsden doubts fans have seen everything the Red Rocks are capable of.
“I don’t think they’ve peaked yet,” Marsden said. “That’s not all bad because there’s still some season left, and I still think we have time to see if we can put together some meets where everybody is hitting on all cylinders and that we’re sticking at a higher percentage because that is what it will take in the end.”
One thing that has stood out to Skinner is the team’s dedication. Week in and week out of what they want to accomplish this year, Skinner thinks her teammates’ hard work is finally starting to show. While the coaches remind them that finishing in the top three is a lofty goal, Skinner smiles as she talks about being in a possible position to win a National Championship.
“As long as we go in and be confident with our routines and know that we’re going to go up there and hit them, I think we could definitely accomplish that,” Skinner said.