Despite Struggles, No. 5 Red Rocks Win Final Meet of the Regular Season


Jack Gambassi

Utah Red Rocks’ senior, Sydney Soloski, during the final home meet of the 2020-21 season at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. March 12, 2021. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor

The No. 5 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team closed out their regular season with another win — this time over No. 20 Utah State. It wasn’t the best performance of the season for the Red Rocks who scored 197.275 to Utah State’s 196.500. 

There were lots of points left on the floor for the Red Rocks, which was something head coach Tom Farden felt was detrimental to building the momentum the team needed. 

“And you know, there were a lot of mistakes. You know those mistakes, significant mistakes on every event, and so you know you look at the score tab and you’re looking at 9.2s, 9.6s 9.7s,” Farden said. “Every event suffered either a fall or some nine sevens and you know that’s quite frankly, not the expectation, and I know the overall team score was so-so, but, yeah, this one kind of caught us by surprise.” 

The Red Rocks were forced to count Adrienne Randall’s 9.650 on the floor after Cristal Isa scored a 9.200 on her routine. On the bars, Jaedyn Rucker’s 9.725 was thrown out, leading to the team needing to count Abby Paulson’s 9.775. 

Even though this meet will go on the schedule as a win for the Red Rocks, there are no moral victories in gymnastics. 

“This was probably our worst team performance. This is not an indication of what we are capable of,” said senior Sydney Soloski after the meet. “Our team didn’t show up tonight, and it’s really disappointing, seeing how much hard work is put in the gym and it’s not translating over so we have some stuff to figure out in the next week.” 

Even though the team didn’t see a lot of good in the victory, a star began to emerge as freshman Lucy Stanhope set new career-highs on all three events she competed on tonight. She scored a pair of 9.900’s on the vault and floor and a 9.875 on the beam. Her beam score was one that fans talked about during the meet — one judge awarded Stanhope with a 9.950 while the other scored her routine with a 9.800. 

This week’s meet was a stark contrast to Stanhope’s performance last week, where she struggled most of the night. According to Farden, she was supposed to make her all-around debut in Corvallis, but due to her rough night, she was pulled from the floor lineup prior to the start of the rotation. 

“You know what’s funny about Lucy is I think she bounced back and wanted this opportunity, you know last weekend I don’t think it was one of her best performances as a Red Rock,” Farden said. “She went out there with some fire in her belly and wanted to, you know, get some work done and she did have herself a really great night.” 

With the postseason right around the corner, the Red Rocks can’t dwell on this meet. Soloski feels that tonight’s showing doesn’t mean that the team is tired, but mentally, they just weren’t ready. 

“I think this was 100% a mental mistake. This was people not having enough heart on the floor, this was people not trusting in their gymnastics and it’s extremely disappointing. Just because I’ve watched these kids hit 9.90s in the gym, day after day and it’s not happening on the floor,” Soloski said. 

“We’ve all got to get together in the same boat and start rowing in the right direction,” Farden added. 

Farden also stated that he didn’t know if the team was reacting to the team they were competing against, their first non-Power 5 opponent since the second week of the season. 

“Last weekend we were really happy obviously, it was a great performance at Oregon State. And then this weekend, you know some sports psychologists say you play down to your opponent and I’m not sure if that was it or if something else was going on,” Farden said. 

Tonight was also the last night senior Emilie LeBlanc would compete in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Due to COVID-19, the NCAA granted a blanket waiver to all athletes, freezing eligibility and allowing seniors to return for another year if they chose so. Soloski and fellow senior Alexia Burch announced earlier this week that they would be taking their COVID year while LeBlanc will be calling it a career after this year. 

In her final routines at the Huntsman, LeBlanc scored a 9.875 on the bars, and in an exhibition on the beam, she scored a 9.775. 

Post meet, Soloski also revealed that she had made her decision to take her extra year in October of 2020 but decided to wait to announce her choice until this week. 

The Red Rocks will surely need not only her leadership but the leadership of the other two seniors next week as they head to West Valley to compete in the Pac-12 Championship meet. The Red Rocks already claimed the regular season title but will be looking to become outright champions for the first time since 2017. 

The 2021 Pac-12 Championship will take place next Saturday, March 20 at the Maverik Center. The time of the meet is still TBD.


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