As the new year approaches, Utes fans look to the upcoming seasons of Utah athletics with hope for success, a willingness to move on from seasons past and a renewed sense of pride in the university they call home. Each sport that Utah has to offer comes with its own interesting aspects to keep in mind as students progress through the year. Of course, most will support the university wherever possible, but in a pinch, here are the things to look out for.
The football team will have some interesting developments at the quarterback position, with incoming freshman Jack Tuttle competing with current starter Tyler Huntley for the first string job. Tuttle comes out of San Marcos, California, hoping to revamp an offense that lost key players to graduation or the NFL Draft. The Utes will look to stay consistent in their play within the Pac-12, where they are slated to finish second in the South division, behind the University of Southern California. These high expectations, coupled with a weaker conference and more returning seniors, is setting the Utes up for a nice season in the Pac-12.
Men’s basketball looks to try and maintain its winning culture after the departure of David Collette and Justin Bibbins, who were two key assets to the team’s offensive game. Coach Larry Krystkowiak hopes to embark on another winning season with the team in his eighth year as coach, anticipating increased production from the likes of Donnie Tillman and Jayce Johnson. Parker van Dyke and Sedrick Barefield will end their Utah careers this upcoming season, so watch for them to have increased playing time and starting roles as veteran leaders for the team.
Gymnastics is working to improve from their fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships last year. No small feat to ask, but in a culture so accustomed to excellence as the Red Rocks, a consistent berth among the top three in national competition has essentially become the floor of their expectations. Seniors Kari Lee, Shannon Mcnatt, Makenna Merrell-Giles and MyKayla Skinner will lead a gymnastics team that is looking to regain its dominance in not only the Pac-12 but on the national stage.
On the diamond, the Utes are moving on from rather disappointing seasons and as they aim to turn a positive light on two teams that had abnormally weak seasons last year. The baseball team, just two years removed from a Pac-12 Championship run, were dead last overall, with an 8-22 record against other teams in the conference. The Utes’ offense is suffering after the loss of Dashawn Keirsey, Jr., who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins. The team also lost three pitchers to graduation. The softball team’s roster is looking at an even tougher hill to climb with the departure of phenomenal pitching from Katie Donovan and Miranda Viramontes and extreme offensive production from Heather Bowen, all three of which graduated.
Utah athletics is filled to the brim with a bright outlook for upcoming seasons and fans are hoping to see many championship parades this time next year.