Thoughts from the 2021 Red Rocks Season Preview


University of Utah assistant gymnastics coach CarlyDockendorf talks with the Red Rocks before their performance on the balance beam in a dual meet vs. The University of Kentucky at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

The 2021 season is finally upon the University of Utah Red Rocks Gymnastics team. The team held their annual Red Rock Season preview meet on Wednesday afternoon. The event was limited to just media and staff, but the team still showed out for the meet. 



The biggest thing I took away from this event was landings. Alexia Burch was the only girl in the rotation that was able to completely stick her landing. There is a lot of promise in this event, though, with the depth the team has. While only six girls vaulted, head coach Tom Farden said post meet that senior Sydney Soloski was also in the lineup for the event but was experiencing some hamstring tightness, so in a bout of caution he decided to pull her from the lineup. Every single girl who vaulted at the meet has the skill and the potential to stick them this season. 

Cristal Isa said post meet that the hops players were taking on landings won’t be an issue come the time the season comes around. Landing on the hard competition mats is a lot different from the softer practice mats. 



This was the rotation other than vault that had the most question marks heading into this season. With the departure of Kim Tessen and Missy Reinstadtler, along with the medical retirement of Hunter Dula, there were three spots that needed to be filled for this event.

I can say with confidence that whoever the coaching staff chooses to represent the team at the event will be a good choice. The biggest surprise during this rotation was Burch — who looked like she had been performing on the bars for the Red Rocks for ages. Isa looked perfect on the event as always, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends the season with a perfect score or two. Emilie LeBlanc and Maile O’Keefe also looked solid at the event. 



If bars and vault were the events I was most concerned about, beam was the polar opposite. The Red Rocks were returning all of their routines on the event, and most of the girls look like they were still competing against UCLA with the level of perfection I saw. The only thing that will need to be addressed is the steps on landings. But again, that is a minor issue when it comes to the grand scheme of routines. 

Isa yet again was a stand out to me on the event. Her upbeat routine was so fun to watch and she has a real knack for the event. But Abby Paulson was who I was most interested in seeing in the event. Given how good she was last season, especially towards the end, I was intrigued to see how the sophomore would be this season. Her routine looked just as good in the preview as it did when she scored her ten versus UCLA last season. There might have been a few minor changes to this year’s routine, but why change perfection when it works for you. 

Freshman Lucy Stanhope will compete in the event at some point this season. The skills she showed in her performance were different than some of the other ones that we see in every other routine. 



After watching 10 floor routines, I can say that Utah is deep in the event. Of course, the heavy hitters like Soloski and O’Keefe looked good with their new routines at the event. Paulson and Isa looked solid, as did Burch. 

But Cammy Hall and Jaedyn Rucker really impressed me at the meet. Their routines were different than the rest of the groups and had some fun dance elements in them to go with some excellent tumbling.  

Stanhope and fellow freshman Jaylene Gilstrap showed a lot of potential at the event as well. 


What’s Next

This year’s team doesn’t know when their season will start, but when Oklahoma announced their schedule earlier this month, the Red Rocks appeared on their schedule. That meet is set for Jan. 17, 2021. This season’s meet between the two powerhouses is the first of a home and home deal the schools announced last year. The Red Rocks will travel to Norman this season and the Sooners will come to SLC next year. 

The remainder of the Red Rocks 2021 schedule is TBA. 


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