No. 3 Red Rocks Host No. 15 Washington


Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah women's gymnastics senior Maddy Stover performs on the balance beam in a dual meet vs. The Oregon State Beavers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carra McManamon

On Saturday, Feb. 3, the No. 3 University of Utah gymnastics team will continue its Pac-12 schedule by hosting a matinee meet against No. 15 Washington. The competition gets underway at 1:30 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

As the season continues to roll along, the Red Rocks are finding things to concentrate on each week so they can improve and be prepared for postseason action.

“We find different things that are our focus each weekend and we do a lot of times talk about it,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “Really it doesn’t matter who we’re going against, certainly you have to be at your best to win any meet against any team.”

The Red Rocks are continuing to see their efforts pay off as they earned a season-high score against Arizona this past week. According to junior MaKenna Merrell-Giles, that sort of performance only helps push the team more.

“That motivation definitely stays all season where you just want to keep getting a high score, keep improving,” Merrell-Giles said. “Even if we don’t focus on the scores, keep improving like Tom [Farden] always says. We just want to see where hitting 24 routines takes us, hitting 24 of our best routines like we do in practice. So the motivation for this weekend is hit 24 routines, and we’ll see what happens with the scores.”

Nationally, Utah is ranked No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault, No. 3 on bars and No. 9 on beam. Not only have the Red Rocks hit 24-of-24 routines in all their three past meets, but they are also the only team to have two athletes ranked in the top five in the all-around. MyKayla Skinner comes in at No. 4 and Merrell-Giles, who is having a breakout season, is ranked behind her at No. 5.

“We just reached our season-high, and we know that feeling of reaching a new goal and setting new goals, so that feeling, you just constantly want to be chasing that feeling of we’ve reached this,” Merrell-Giles said. “We still had mistakes on Friday, and it’s cool to think we got our season-high with a couple of mistakes, so now let’s see [if] we can take care of those mistakes and where it can take us. It’s just that constant chasing of how good we can be without any mistakes.”

The team had a podium style event earlier in the season and now Utah will perform in the afternoon. Both meets are positive preparations for the team’s postseason meets where Utah can’t always control when it will compete, according to Marsden.

“In prelims and championships, you could be in an afternoon meet session or an evening session,” Marsden said. “So to get the girls to try out all those different circumstances and still be able to show they can do it.”

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