The Red Rocks Welcome Abby Paulson


University of Utah women’s gymnastics freshman Abby Paulson performs on the balance beam 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


This year’s University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team is full of new faces. Abby Paulson is one of the young gymnasts who has already made an early impact for this year’s team. 

In her first two meets as a Red Rock, Paulson has scored a 9.90 on both of her beam routines and a 9.80 or above on both of her floor routines. 

While she has shown people what she brings to the table so early in the season the Anoka, Minnesota native shares how she got bored with other sports growing up. 

“From a young age, I didn’t really like any other sports. I was bored and I was very ambitious with gymnastics, so that kinda drove me. I started training 20 hours a week when I was four and that was when I started my elite path,” Paulson said. 

Once she settled into gymnastics, Paulson climbed the ranks. By 2017, she had become a member of the USA Senior National Team. She also had qualified for both the P&G National Championship and the U.S. Classic. 

At the U.S. Classic in 2017, Paulson finished the all-around competition in second place and her floor routine earned her fifth place. At the 2017 City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy, she won the floor event and finished in third in the all-around. At the 2019 Region 4 Championships, Paulson took home three event titles including all-around and beam. She took second on the bars and floor at the same event.

Competing at a high level is something her family is used to. Paulson’s father, Brandon, won an Olympic silver medal in 1996 for Greco-Roman wrestling. 

Brandon could tell that his daughter was determined and focused on her craft from a young age. Once when Abby was warming up for her upcoming floor routine during a qualifying meet for the U.S. Classic, she missed her landing on her double back and landed on her face. Abby was the first one to perform on the floor so she had a small amount of time to wipe away her tears and regain her composure before performing. Abby then performed her routine and landed her double back for the first time in competition. 

“For me, that was just huge. I have a saying of ‘love the fight,’ where you have to go with the bad stuff and change your attitude and figure out a way to get things done, and she loved the fight. She hit her face and was crying, but then got out there and did what she was supposed to do,” Brandon said. 

When it became time for Abby to make her decision on where to take her talents, the choice was easy. 

“I was looking at Utah and some other schools, but when I first visited here I just fell in love. The mountains are so pretty and so much different,” Abby said. “The program and the history of everything as well as being intrigued by the equipment and how nice everything was but I also loved the coaching staff and everything.” 

When she told her father her plans for college, he was happy to see his daughter go to a program that they had supported even before Abby was being recruited. 

“We had been fans of Utah when she was young, and she’d always really wanted to go to Utah, so when she was making that decision — and she made it at a young age — I was very comfortable with it,” Brandon said. “I loved the area and the team and the support they get from the community. We were very excited that she made that decision.” 

The Paulson family made sure they were at both of Abby’s first times competing in the Huntsman Canter. They were in attendance for the Red Rocks Preview in early December and the first home meet of the season versus Kentucky. 

While her career at Utah is still in the beginning phases, Abby’s goal remains in line with the other members of this Red Rocks team. “The whole team, as well as my goal, is for us to be national champs,” Abby said. 

For Brandon, his words for his daughter are simple: enjoy the ride because it’ll be over before you know it. 

“You only get a certain amount of time to do your gymnastics. You have a few years left and try to enjoy every minute of it,” Brandon said. “But also try to reach your goals and try to work as hard as you can for the next few years to try to reach your personal goals and the team goals that you have. Use the time wisely because they are going to go quick and of course to always love the fight.”


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