Red Rocks? new skills help prepare for season

By Paige Fieldsted, Sports Editor

The Red Rocks are less than two weeks into their practice schedule, but the Utah gymnastic team is already feeling confident and ready to go.

Having dedicated most of the first month of school to conditioning and transitioning from the summer break, the team began official practices Monday.

“It’s still early to determine a lot, but I think we have a good group assembled again,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “I think the returning people, the upperclassmen, are doing a great job of leading the way by example in the gym in terms of having their skills ready to go and working on upgrades and being a little ahead.”

Although the Utes have only been working consistently on their gymnastic skills for a week and a half, the team members said they feel good about the progress they have made so far.

With several members of the team working on upgrades to routines and making pushes to be included in the all-around competition, the Red Rocks are as confident as ever.

“I think we are further along than we have been in the past years,” said senior Jamie Deetscreek. “I just think people are doing the skills that they need to do for their routines earlier. Sometimes it takes a little bit to get your skills back after not doing them all summer, but people seem to be getting things going faster, and a lot of people are almost doing full routines. It just seems like we’re further along.”

Marsden said she has seen several things in practice so far that make her excited for the upcoming season, including a new tumbling pass from Deetscreek, upgrades to a bar routine from Daria Bijak and Annie DiLuzio’s bar routine for the all-around competition.

Marsden said she expects big performances out of her seniors as well as juniors Kyndal Robarts and Gael Mackie when the season arrives.

“We have some new skills and upgrades,” Bijak said. “That is the most exciting, we are really excited to go out there and show that to the people.”

One thing Marsden emphasized during the summer that could be crucial to the Red Rocks’ success is the team meshing and getting comfortable with each other earlier on, a process she says is well on its way.

“From what I can tell, I think the group really enjoys each other,” Marsden said. “I think the group dynamics at the moment is good.”

One aspect about the team that is still undecided is who will assume the leadership roles left behind by graduating Nina Kim and Kristina Baskett.

“Leadership will be interesting this year,” Marsden said. “Last year it was a no-brainer, we had two seniors and those two seniors had leadership qualities and wanted to lead. This year, we have more seniors and very different leading capabilities, so how that meshes will be interesting.”

Despite the lack of a clear leader early in the season, the team members say they aren’t worried about it.

“I think everyone is trying to be a leader,” Bijak said. “Everyone is trying to be a role model in the gym; I think that is most important.”

Deetscreek echoed Bijak’s opinion, saying that if the entire team worked together, the impact of losing Kim and Baskett would be lessened.

“I think just everybody knowing that they have to step up, everybody just needs to pull their weight and motivate each other and all work together instead of relying on one or two people,” Deetscreek said.

The Red Rocks will continue practices throughout the fall before beginning competition in January.

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Lennie Mahler/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Jamie Deetscreek and the Red Rocks have been working on team conditioning for the first month of school. Deetscreek has also been working on a new tumbling pass that has the coaches excited.