Marsden: ‘I put my bets on Baely’

Photo+by+Brent+Uberty.

Brent Uberty

Photo by Brent Uberty.

Photo by Brent Uberty.
Photo by Brent Uberty.
When Utah took the floor for the first time in 2014, the Red Rocks’ lineups looked quite familiar. The team did not graduate a single gymnast in 2013 and even returned some athletes who were hurt a year ago.
Because of this, one face stuck out — lone freshman Baely Rowe. Fans got their first look at the Federal Way, Wash. native when she was Utah’s second competitor on beam that night. In front of more than 14,000 fans, Rowe delivered her first college routine without a fall. She received a 9.750 on the event, and cheers ensued.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Rowe said. “When I was up there on the beam, I didn’t realize how many people were up there in the stands. I just did my own thing, but after, when everyone cheered, it was just an amazing atmosphere and so honoring to be out there competing for Utah.”
One of the big reasons Rowe chose to be a Red Rock was because of the atmosphere in the Huntsman Center. She had offers from other big-name schools such as Alabama, Georgia and UCLA coming out of high school, but the big crowds at every Utah meet helped sway her.
That wasn’t the only reason she chose Utah, though.
“When I visited here, I absolutely loved the atmosphere around campus,” she said. “The team was like a family, and I really liked that, and the coaches were awesome.”
With only one scholarship available this season, those coaches, Greg and Megan Marsden, had to choose carefully who they were going to sign for 2014. Fortunately for them, Rowe made the decision easy.
“I really felt like she owned her gymnastics,” Greg Marsden said. “She enjoyed being out in front of people, which both are really important qualities.”
Despite the many attractive factors of joining the Red Rocks, the decision was not easy for Rowe. Other schools were not only offering a scholarship but also a greater chance to compete right away. With Utah’s entire squad returning this season, Rowe knew it was going to be hard to crack the lineup on even one event, but she was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.
“I knew I was going to try and compete at least one or two events,” she said. “I knew that everyone was coming back and a couple that were injured that also came back, so I knew it was going to be tough, but if I worked hard and was consistent, I knew that I could potentially get in the lineup.”
While Rowe already competes as the leadoff gymnast on beam, she has been knocking on the door of other events as well. Before her time at Utah, she was a two-time Junior Olympic national champion on bars and was the 2013 J.O. national all-around champion. Though she proved her prowess on all four events prior to starting her collegiate career, Rowe is starting to do the same on this stage. Marsden has said he has considered her for the lineup on both bars and vault, and even though she is content with her role in the beam rotation, Rowe said she would welcome the chance to contribute elsewhere.
“I would love to get out there on the floor,” she said. “I know the coaches really want me to do that too, so I’m trying really hard to get consistent on that event. Hopefully, sometime this year, maybe I can get an exhibition in or something.”
Most athletes who transition from high school to college have fellow freshmen to go through the experience with them, but Rowe has been flying solo in that regard this season. She credits her older teammates for helping her feel comfortable during her first year in Salt Lake City.
“In the beginning it was a little tough because I feel like I was the only one struggling at times,” she said. “They all knew what was happening and going on, and I didn’t have anyone there to help me go through it. Once I got into it, though, they really helped me out. Like I said, it’s really like a family here.”
Rowe’s teammates, or “sisters,” have definitely noticed a change in her both on and off the beam as the school year has unfolded.
“She was good when she came here, but she’s also come a long way,” said junior Tory Wilson. “It’s great how she’s been able to step up and be our leadoff on beam and be solid for us.”
Senior and fellow beam worker Mary Beth Lofgren echoed what Wilson had to say about the freshman.
“She’s grown a lot,” Lofgren said. “She’s really developed into a college athlete and really embraced it. I’m really proud of her for being a freshman and being in the beam lineup and leading us off strong.”
Lofgren and the Red Rocks’ three other seniors will be leaving the team at season’s end, and while no one associated with the squad wants to think about that just yet, Megan Marsden expects Rowe to step up as a leader next season and help the new freshmen get through what she is experiencing now.
“I’m anxious to see how she handles her year of experience and understanding this game,” Marsden said. “She’s got some talented freshmen coming in, but I put my bets on Baely to know even better how to get in the mix on more than balance beam.”
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