University of Utah women's gymnastics senior MaKenna Merrell-Giles performs on the balance beam in a dual meet vs. Penn State at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The record continues for the No. 4 University of Utah Red Rocks Gymnastics (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) team. For the sixth week in a row, the team crossed the 197 point mark to take down the No. 14 California Golden Bears (5-4, 2-2 Pac-12) 197.150-196.225.

The team is on the right track to set a school record with total meets scoring over 197 total points. The team will need one more meet in which they score 197 to tie the record and two more meets to beat the record set by the 2014 and 2016 teams. This season also ties the second most 197’s in a total season set by the team last season. Co-head coach Tom Farden can see just how special of the team he has this season.

“This little team is making history in what is probably the most historical gymnastics program in the country,” said Farden. 

Attendance for the meet also set a record: for the fifth time in school history, over 15,558 fans were in attendance to support the Red Rocks.

The first rotation of vault started off rather strong for the team with Kari Lee, Macey Roberts and Alexia Burch scoring in the 9.8 range, scoring 9.850, 9.875 and 9.800, respectively. Things got hot for the team when MaKenna Merrell-Giles and MyKayla Skinner scored 9.925 and 9.950 on the event. One judge even gave Skinner a 10 on what looked to be a perfect vault. Rounding out the event was Kim Tessen who scored a 9.875.

At the end of the first rotation, the Red Rocks led 49.475-49.100.

“MaKenna and MyKayla, talk about beautiful vaults, those were incredible so we got off to a good start and I think it was the shining event of the night,” said Farden.

The bar rotation was filled with scores in the 9.8 range from five out of the six gymnasts in the lineup. Highest scores came from Tessen, Merrell-Giles, and Skinner who all scored a 9.850. Lee had a step on her dismount which resulted in her score of 9.725.

The team scored 49.175 on the event which extended their lead to 98.650-98.200.

Utah was in the driver’s seat as they headed to the beam, but things were not as easy as they hoped for. The team had two 9.6’s on the event, one coming from Shannon McNatt and the other from the usually very reliable Adrienne Randall. Helping the team reach their goal of 49 on each event was Skinner, Merrell-Giles, and Lee who all scored in the 9.9 range. Lee and Merrell-Giles won the event with scores of 9.925. Lee believes that the team made progress from last week’s meet to this one.  

“The little things we were working on from last week showed this week, especially on beam. I know we had a couple mistakes, but we never caved and I think that really showed today,” said Lee.

Heading into the final rotation the Red Rocks led 147.875-147.350.

While the floor set was not as strong as it has been, there were still good routines from the Red Rocks. The highest scores on the event came from Roberts, Randall, and Merrell-Giles who all scored a 9.875. Sydney Soloski fell during her final pass on her routine and scored a 9.100.

Merrell-Giles won the All-Around category for the second week in a row with a total score of 39.350. Skinner won the vault title during the meet.

Next week, the team heads into a gauntlet of competition. On Friday, Feb. 15, the team will head into their first and only quad of the regular season in St. Charles, Missouri to compete against No. 13 Missouri, No. 5 LSU and No. 24 Stanford. Then, the following Monday, Feb. 18, the Red Rocks and Cardinal will meet again, this time in Palo Alto. Rounding out the stretch, the current National Champion UCLA Bruins will head into the Huntsman on Feb. 23.

s.mora@dailyutahchronicle.com

@s_mora99

Sammy Mora
Sammy Mora is currently in her second year of writing for The Daily Utah Chronicle. Before writing here, Sammy was a four year staff member of her high school newspaper The Speaking Eagle where she reached the level of sports editor.

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