No. 4 Red Rocks Roll, Clinch Back to Back Pac-12 Regular Season Championship


University of Utah sophomore Maile O’Keefe in a NCAA Women’s Gymnastics meet vs. the University of California at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor


Maile O’Keefe was determined heading into Friday’s showdown between the No. 4 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team and the No. 23 Oregon State Beavers. According to head coach Tom Farden the sophomore had the goals and was determined to make it happen. 

“She said, we’re going to Oregon to win, and to be undefeated and she vocalized that and then led the way. So, it was pretty impressive for a sophomore,” Farden said. 

And impressive it was. O’Keefe not only scored above a 9.90 on every event tonight but she also posted a career high 39.725 in the all-around. She also posted a career high on bars (9.950) and tied her career high on the vault (9.900). 

The team as a whole thrived in the meet, posting a season high score of 197.575 and clinching a back to back regular season Pac-12 Championship in the process. Oregon State scored a 196.425 in the meet. 

“That’s two years in a row, in one of the toughest conferences. To be unscathed and undefeated two years in a row in our conference, it speaks volumes for our athletes being able to win on the road and at home,” Farden said. “And obviously the Pac-12 has some thoroughbreds and some Blue Bloods but then some rising, talented teams that really tested us this year, so we’re very proud of the program.” 

But one of the brightest spots once again for this Utah team was the beam team. O’Keefe, who is the No. 1 gymnast in the country, scored a 9.975 to finish off Utah’s best beam lineup all season. Alexia Burch scored a 9.900 to start the rotation for the Red Rocks. Cristal Isa and Abby Paulson both scored 9.950’s from the third and fourth spots in the lineup respectively. Lucy Stanhope and Adrienne Randall both scored 9.825s, one of which was dropped to go towards the teams final event score. 

The 49.600 the team scored on the beam was the best they have scored all season. 

“They seem to be striking postseason form at the right time,” Farden said. “And we know that beam is an event for us that’s a weapon, and tonight was pretty spectacular.”

It was a steady build up to the explosive beam lineup, after opening the meet with a 49.225 on the bars, their vault score went up by a tenth, logging a 49.325. Floor was the same thing as the Red Rocks scored a 49.425 on the event before the season-high beam score. 

“We were incrementally going up one tenth perfectly and then we said to the athletes let’s try to do better than one tenth on beam. I’m joking, we didn’t say that to them. They just went out there and knocked out an incredible beam team set,” Farden said. 

This week’s road score was vastly important for the Red Rocks, who were looking to drop their score from the Best of Utah meet earlier this season to boost their NQS. 

The Red Rocks nearly swept the event titles tonight, with O’Keefe winning four out of the five that were on the table. Her 9.90 on vault tied with teammate Jaedyn Rucker and Sydney Gonzales of OSU for the event title. That score set a new career high for Rucker. 

On the bars, O’Keefe’s 9.950 won the title while Isa’s 9.900 was good enough for second place. 

The only event that Utah did not win was floor as OSU’s Kaitlyn Yanish scored a 9.950. Sydney Soloski’s score of 9.925 earned her a share of second place with Madi Dagen of the Beavers. 

The Red Rocks will now head home to compete in the Huntsman Center for the final time this season as they host Utah State for Senior Day on Friday, March 12. The meet is set to begin at 7 p.m. MST. After that, the journey to post season will begin at the Pac-12 Championship on March 20.


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