It had been 10 years since the University of Utah gymnastics team won in Pauley Pavilion. On Sunday night, that changed when the No. 3 Red Rocks knocked off the No. 2 UCLA Bruins in dramatic fashion, 197.550–197.425.
After the first event, the Bruins led by only .015 points. MaKenna Merrell-Giles scored a career-high 9.90 on the bars, while Kim Tessen also landed a 9.90. Utah showed its depth on this event as MyKayla Skinner put up an uncharacteristic score of 9.775.
On vault, the Red Rocks got off on the wrong foot, but they showed the fight they have inside of them. Merrell-Giles struggled on her landing and Tessen had a fall. But both Kari Lee and Skinner provided season-high scores to help boost the Red Rocks score.
Midway through the meet, the Red Rocks trailed UCLA, 98.75-98.60.
The Red Rocks showed why they lead the nation on floor, and their performances helped them make a comeback. Skinner proved her dominance with a score of 9.975. Both Merrell-Giles and Missy Reinstadtler added 9.925s. Lee finished with a 9.90 to help the Red Rocks earn an overall score of 49.550 in the event.
Stellar performances on floor pushed the Red Rocks to tie with the Bruins at 148.150. The meet was on the line for both teams as they headed into its final rotations of the night.
Utah needed to be near flawless on beam to edge the Bruins as they were finishing the competition on floor. The Red Rocks were able to match their season-high score of 49.40 on beam. Merrell-Giles finished with a 9.925, Alexia Burch landed a 9.850, Lee contributed a 9.875, Reinstadtler finished with a 9.825 and Skinner anchored a 9.925.
UCLA had three of its members step out of bounds on floor, helping the Red Rocks secure the victory against the team that was named the favorite to win the Pac-12 Championship this season.
“You could feel the pressure on both teams in this great environment,” said co-head coach Tom Farden in a Utah Athletics press release. “Both of us showed uncharacteristic nerves at the beginning of the meet. But we settled down [in the second half] and that beam was maybe the best we have done all year. Our beam workers stayed in their element under intense pressure, and we continue to show just a ton of tenacity.”
The Red Rocks will head back to California to face the Cal Bears on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 12 p.m.