Red Rocks stockpile talent pool

With the 2008 season rapidly approaching for the U gymnastics team, the Red Rocks added to the stockpile of gymnasts that will lead the Utes in the future.

Thursday morning, Red Rock head coach Greg Marsden received written commitments from Courti Beers and Stephanie McAllister. Both gymnasts are scheduled to join the team in the fall of 2008 in preparation for the 2009 season.

Beers will join the Utes out of the Kraft Academy of Gymnastics, located in Tulsa, Okla. Beers spent two years on the U.S. National Team from 2004 to 2005 and took home a bronze medal in the all-around in both the 2005 and 2007 Friendship Cup. She is a gymnast whom Marsden expects to contribute at the all-around level the moment she steps onto campus.

“She’s very artistic with her gymnastics,” Marsden said of Beers. “She reminds me a little bit of Theresa Kulikowski…she’s kind of that type of an athlete. Her movement is very fluid, and there is a real artistic quality to it.”

McAllister hails from Greenwood, Ind., and trains out of the Wright American Gymnastics facility. McAllister won the all-around in the 2005 Junior Olympics and also recently won the uneven bars portion of the 2007 Junior Olympic National Championships. With her athleticism and bubbly personality, Marsden expects McAllister to also make an immediate impact with his team next year.

“I describe (McAllister’s) gymnastics as more athletic,” Marsden said. “She’s really bubbly and outgoing, and she’s really fun to watch. You see her personality — she really shows that on the competitive floor.”

As the Utes prepare for 2008 and their season-opening meet against Georgia, Marsden said the beginning of the season has been a “night and day” comparison to the beginning of last year.

“There is no comparison of where we were at this time last year and what we were going through,” Marsden said. “It’s been a much more enjoyable preseason. It’s been a much more feeling of team and togetherness and people appreciating each other. Its not the bickering and the divisiveness that we experienced last year.”

Gael Mackie is also still on-schedule to join the Utes on Dec. 26. Besides the all-around talent she brings to the Utes, Mackie will be instrumental in adding depth to the Utes’ bar rotation, which was already thin during the 2007 season before they lost Nicolle Ford after her senior year of competition.

“We’ve got two or three girls that can’t work bars because of shoulders or elbow problems,” Marsden said. “Having Gael here and able to compete that event is going to take some pressure of us in terms of depth.”

The Utes will open their season with the Red Rocks Preview on Jan. 4, before playing hosts to three-time defending champion Georgia on Jan. 11.

[email protected]