After competing at home to start off the season last week, the No. 4 Red Rocks will have their first road test of the campaign tonight as they open up Pac-12 action against Cal in Berkeley.
Utah (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) got through last weekend’s meet without a loss and is hoping to continue that success against the Golden Bears (3-2, 0-1 Pac-12). Even though the Red Rocks finished their opener undefeated, a roller coaster of emotions accompanied the evening, and the team is looking to move on and focus on the task at hand Friday.
To do that, gymnasts have been focusing on consistency in preparation for the meet.
“Here in the gym, we always talk about how we should practice like we compete,” says junior Tory Wilson. “I think as long as we move forward with the same mental strategies that we’ve been using and working on, that [the meet] will go well.”
This concept will be particularly important since the Red Rocks will be encountering one often underestimated element in Berkeley. Utah has grown accustomed to practicing on its own bars, vault, and floor, but equipment changes from venue to venue. Although the differences aren’t too significant, Red Rocks’ co-head coach Megan Marsden stressed the importance of getting comfortable with the equipment in pre-meet warmups. With limited time to do that, the Red Rocks will have to act quickly when it comes to acclimating themselves.
Something Utah will not be able to duplicate, however, is the energy it gets from the Huntsman Center crowd.
“The big thing for road meets, especially for this group of athletes, is the feel of the arena and equipment,” Marsden says. “It is not the usual, and we will have to adjust with positive thoughts and quickly. We have to create some of our own energy, as we are used to a lot of people in our arena. Cal has a good following, but not quite like ours.”
After unexpectedly being thrown into the beam lineup last week when junior Kassandra Lopez was injured prior to the meet, freshman Baely Rowe will now be experiencing the first away meet of her career.
“I’m definitely excited for it,” she says. “Being able to travel and go to California should be fun. I’m not too sure what to expect, but I know that the team’s got my back, and they will support me through everything.”
No live TV coverage will be available for the meet, but live commentary can be found at utahutes.com. Action is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.