University of Utah women's gymnastics sophomore Alexia Burch 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 road to the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championship goes through Salt Lake this week as the No. 4 University of Utah Red Rocks Gymnastics team (9-1, 5-0 Pac-12) takes on the defending NCAA Champions, No. 2 UCLA (9-0, 5-0 Pac-12) in what is set to be the meet of the season.

Scouting the Utes

Utah is coming off of a stacked weekend of competition where they took on some of the biggest names in collegiate gymnastics. Last Friday, the team was in St. Charles, Missouri for the Mardi Gras Invitational where they took on LSU, Missouri and Stanford. The team came in second in the meet, falling to LSU by a score of 197.250-197.075.

Two days later on President’s Day, the Red Rocks were in Palo Alto where they took on Stanford yet again, but this time in a dual meet between the two schools. The Red Rocks prevailed in the meet with a score of 197.125-195.800.

In the rankings this week, Utah holds strong at the No. 4 spot overall. The team is also ranked on all four events with their highest score being on vault (second). The team comes in at fourth on floor and seventh on both the bars and the beam.

At the individual level, the Red Rocks are holding strong in several events. In the All Around category, both MyKayla Skinner and MaKenna Merrell-Giles are ranked, with Skinner in fifth and Merrell-Giles in 13th.

On the vault, Skinner is holding down second place after a strong showing this past weekend on the event. Merrell-Giles is tied for sixth and Macey Roberts rounds out the group in a tie for 17th.

Skinner is the lone Ute ranked on the bars this week, coming in at eighth.

For the first time in a few weeks, a Red Rock is ranked on the beam, as Kari Lee is ranked 22nd in the nation on the event.

On the floor, Skinner is ranked 10th and Merrell-Giles is tied for 17th place.

For the first time in school history, the Red Rocks have scored 197 points in their first four meets of the season.

Scouting UCLA

The Bruins are coming off a season-high scoring meet against Arizona where they scored 198 points for the first time this season.

A number of UCLA individuals are performing well this season, and they have some high ranked athletes on their squad as well.

UCLA opened up the competition this season taking on No. 15 Nebraska, but they have yet to face a top-five opponent all season long.

UCLA will take on Oklahoma next week after taking on the Utes this week.

Utah leads the series against the Bruins 54-33-1, with the last Utah victory coming during last season in LA 197.550-197.425.

Foe to know

Utah and UCLA have won six out of the last seven Pac-12 Championships. UCLA was the first to win taking the title in 2012, but Utah bounced back winning the title in 2014 and 2015. UCLA won again in 2016, Utah again in 2017 and UCLA won the title last year.

The two teams also have the current national champions on all events. Skinner for vault and floor and for UCLA Kyla Ross (bars and beam) and Katelyn Ohashi (floor).

Where to watch

The meet is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. For fans who aren’t able to get tickets to the meet, it will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks as well as live scores on utahutes.com.

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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