New Career Bests as No. 5 Red Rocks Dismantle Sun Devils


University of Utah women’s gymnastics sophomore Cristal Isa performs on the floor in the Deseret dual meet vs. BYU, Utah State, and Southern Utah University at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor


It was a rollercoaster of a meet for the No. 5 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team as they easily rolled to victory over Arizona State 197.050-194.300. While the final score shows a dominating Utah performance, things didn’t start off that way. 

Each of Utah’s first three vaults were in the 9.7 range, which is something that the team felt was unrepresentative of who they were as athletes.

“We definitely left a lot out on the floor tonight,” said junior Alexia Burch. “We are not even close to our potential right now.” 

But when it was Burch’s time to hit the board, debuting a new vault, the Jon M. Huntsman Center exploded. In her first time doing a Yurchenko 1 ½, this Sparks, Nevada native stuck the landing and started smiling from ear to ear. 

“I knew it was there, and that feeling was pretty shocking,” Burch said.  

Burch earned a 9.95 on her vault — which set a new career best for her. 

But she wasn’t the only one set either a new career or season best tonight. Sophomore Hunter Dula set a new career best on the bars with a 9.925. Fellow sophomore Cristal Isa set a career high on the floor with a 9.90. Freshmen Abby Paulson and Maile O’Keefe also set new career highs on the floor. 

Junior transfer Emilie LeBlanc posted her best scores as a Ute with a 9.825 on the bars and a 9.90 on the beam. That beam score won the event for LeBlanc. 

Burch won the vault with her career high, while Dula and Isa won the bars in a tie. The floor title was won by both Paulson and Isa. O’Keefe won the all-around competition with a 39.225. 

In each event, while there were some solid scores, there were also some routines that seemed to knock the wind out of the Utes’ sails. But the team, as well as individual athletes, were able to rebound on the next event. 

That shows you that they have gymnastics amnesia, which you have to have,” said head coach Tom Farden. “Especially if you are a multiple event athlete. You can have a bad event, but you have to go to that next event and turn it off. We are getting there. We are young and I don’t want to give them any excuses, but we are working through some growing pains right now.”

But at the end of the day, Farden believes that the youth of the team doesn’t matter when compared to the talent they actually have. 

“I really feel like this is an extremely talented team,” Farden said. “They have a lot of potential. If we can compete with confidence and sustain scoring, go boom, boom, boom and build of each other, this is a dangerous team.”

The Red Rocks will now hit the road for a two week road stint. The Red Rocks will take on Arizona next week and then will head to Berkley to take on Cal. Both meets will be broadcast via the Pac-12 Networks. 


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