The season for the University of Utah women’s gymnastics team is over. The Red Rocks competed in the first semifinal for the national championship on Friday, and they came in fourth place behind UCLA, LSU and Michigan. The team scored a season-low score of 196.725 on the day’s meet.
Pac-12 rival UCLA won the day with a score of 197.6750. Advancing with the Bruins was LSU, who, after a rocky start was able to surge to second place and score 197.5125. Michigan came in right behind the Tigers with a 197.200. Utah’s score of 196.7250 is the second time this season that the team has not scored within the 197 point rage.
In his post-meet press conference, Tom Farden told Utah Athletics that the team knew they were going to be in a slug fest, but the error margin was too much.
“This wasn’t what we have been working toward all season. We had a team we thought could make finals, but today we were a fraction off in places and there was no room for mistakes in this semifinal field. We needed to get off to a great start since our two best events are floor and vault, but we weren’t at our very best. We did have a nice bar set, but couldn’t make up much ground. Finishing on beam is always hard and when you are a few tenths down, it adds even more pressure,” he said.
The Red Rocks were leading at the end of the first rotation after a good floor lineup that included a 9.9375 from junior MyKayla Skinner. The Red Rocks held a slight edge over Michigan 49.3125-49.300. UCLA was in third with a 49.2875, and LSU was in fourth with a 49.1875 after a rough beam lineup.
The team then headed to the vault for their second rotation. Skinner again posted a fantastic score of a 9.925 and senior MaKenna Merrell-Giles posted a score of 9.900 on her attempt. After Kim Tessen fell on the vault, the team was forced to count a 9.75, which only hurt them in the end.
At the end of the second rotation the Red Rocks went from first place to fourth. UCLA and Michigan were one and two respectively (98.700 and 98.6375). LSU began to dig themselves out of the hole they were in and scored a 98.625. Utah was hot on the Tigers’ heels with a 98.5375.
Utah’s best rotation score of the night came on the bars. Four out of the six competitors stuck their landings, with Skinner posting the highest score of a 9.9125.
Heading into the final rotation, Utah was getting left in the dust by the other teams. LSU had taken the lead with a 148.0750, followed closely by UCLA, 148.0625. For the first time all day, Michigan was not in the top two with a score of 148.0125. Utah had only posted a 147.8625 heading into the beam.
The beam has been the team’s weak spot all season but in the last few weeks the Red Rocks showed great strides on the event. The team scored a 48.8625 on the beam on Friday. The highest score went to Sydney Soloski who had a 9.8125. In what ended up being her last collegiate routine, Merrell-Giles fell off the beam in a disappointing way to end her career.
The Red Rocks finished the meet scoring a 196.725, which wasn’t enough to qualify for the second day of competition.
Skinner’s name has been tossed around for a potential team member for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, and she has made a decision on what her future holds but has not announced it yet. Fans can expect an announcement in the next few days if she will stay for her senior season or take another shot at the Olympics.