No. 6 Red Rocks Set for Salt Lake City Regional


University of Utah freshman Lucy Stanhope at the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championship at the Maverik Center on March 20, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor


After a dominating win in the Pac-12 Championships two weeks ago, the No. 6 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team is back at the Maverik Center for the third time this season, this time to compete in the NCAA Regional competition. The Red Rocks will compete in the early session on Friday with No. 11 Arizona State, No. 17 Boise State and No. 21 Southern Utah. The late session will feature No. 3 LSU, No. 14 Kentucky, No. 22 Utah State and the winner of Thursday’s play-in-meet featuring Temple and Arizona. 

The top two finishers from each session on Friday will compete on Saturday with the top two from that meet qualifying for Nationals on April 16-17. 

Session One Teams 

Scouting the No. 6 Red Rocks 

Record: 10-1, 5-0 Pac-12 

Last meet: 1st @ Pac-12 Championships –  197.725

National Qualifying Score: 197.556

The Red Rocks have crowned the out-right Pac-12 Champions two weeks ago on the back of a stellar beam and floor lineup that saw only one score lower than 9.900 across the two events. Maile O’Keefe was named the Pac-12’s Gymnast of the Year while Alexia Burch earned the Specialist of the Year Award.

The 49.675 the team scored on the floor is the highest score in the country up to this point of the season. Three Red Rocks (O’Keefe, Jaedyn Rucker and Sydney Soloski) posted 9.950s on the event while Abby Paulson posted a career-high 9.925. Cristal Isa and Lucy Stanhope both posted 9.90s.

Once again the stellar beam team for Utah didn’t disappoint in the win, posting the second-highest score in the country on the event. The 49.675 was anchored by 9.95’s from O’Keefe, Paulson and Isa. Adrienne Randall posted a new season-high of 9.925 and Burch scored a 9.900.

In the rankings, the Red Rocks stayed at No. 6 but their NQS went up slightly after posting their season-high score. The Red Rocks are No. 7 in the country on the vault, No. 15 on the bars, No. 3 on the beam and are tied for No. 4 on the floor.

O’Keefe leads the individual rankings, she is tied for No. 1 in the country on the beam and for No. 6 in the country in the all-around, and No. 11 on the bars. Paulson is No. 6 in the nation on the beam while Isa is tied for No. 13. Soloski is tied for No. 8 in the country on the floor this week. Burch is tied for No. 10 in the country on the vault. Isa is also tied on the bars coming in at No. 17.

Utah will start the night on the beam.

Scouting the No. 11 Sun Devils  

Record: 5-5, 4-3 Pac-12 

Last meet: 4th @ Pac-12 Championship – 196.375

National Qualifying Score: 197.088

Anaya Smith led the Sun Devils on the vault at the conference championship, scoring a 9.925 which ties her career-best on the event and earned her second place at the meet. Jada Mangahas scored a 9.900 on the floor for the Sun Devils at the meet. Standout Hannah Scharf competed in the all-around and posted a score of 39.350. 

ASU ranks No. 13 in the country on the vault, No. 12 on the bars, No. 20 on the beam and No. 17 on the floor. The Sun Devils will start the night on the bars. 

Scouting the No. 17 Broncos

Record: 11-3, 4-2 MRGC 

Last meet: 2nd @ MRGC Championship – 196.725

National Qualifying Score: 196.788

The Broncos are appearing in their 13th-consecutive regionals meet this week. While they don’t have an all-arounder, Emily Muhlenhaupt was named the MRGC specialist of the year after she clinched the event title on the bars at their conference championship. Courtney Blackson claimed the event title on vault and Adriana Popp won the event title on beam at the championship.

The Broncos are ranked No. 19 nationally on the vault, No. 12 on bars, No. 31 on beam and No. 14 on floor. They will be starting the night on the floor.

Scouting the No. 21 Thunderbirds 

Record: 6-11, 3-6 MRGC 

Last meet: 4th @ MRGC Championship – 196.225

National Qualifying Score: 196.675

Aubri Schwartze was named the freshman of the year of the MRGC after the Thunderbirds’ fourth-place finish two weeks ago. Karley McClain leads the team in the all-around with a season-high score of 39.425. This is the eighth consecutive year that SUU has qualified for regionals. 

In the rankings SUU comes in at No. 25 on the vault, No. 20 on the bars, No. 16 on the beam and No. 20 on the floor. They will start the night on the vault. 

Session Two Teams 

Scouting the No. 3 Tigers 

Record: 5-3, 4-3 SEC

Last meet: 2nd @ SEC Championships – 197.775

National Qualifying Score: 197.813

LSU is led by trio Haleigh Bryant, Kiya Johnson and Alyona Shchennikova, all who compete in the all-around. Johnson has a season high of 39.625, Bryant of 39.475, and Shchennikova of 39.525.

The Tigers are ranked in the top ten in all events, coming in at No. 2 on floor and vault while they are No. 6 on bars and No. 7 on beam. Johnson is the No. 1 athlete in the country on the floor.

They will open the second session on the beam.

Scouting the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats 

Record: 6-4, 4-3 SEC 

Last meet: 4th @ SEC Championship – 196.825

National Qualifying Score: 196.969

Kentucky is also led by a trio of all-rounders in Raena Worley (39.600), Josie Angeny (39.500) and Bailey Bunn (39.450).

In the rankings the Wildcats come in at No. 13 on the vault, No. 16 on the bars, No. 13 on the beam and No. 23 on the floor. They will start their night on the bars.

Scouting the No. 22 Aggies  

Record: 3-12, 2-7 MRGC

Last meet: 3rd @ MRGC Championship – 196.250

National Qualifying Score: 196.531

Leighton Varnadore leads the team in the all-around with her score of 39.325. Autumn DeHarde was named the conference’s beam specialist of the year after their championship meet. This will be the Aggies first appearance at regionals since 2017. 

USU is ranked No. 21 on the vault, No. 29 on the bars, No. 16 on beam and No. 29 on floor. They will start the meet on floor. 

Scouting the Arizona Wildcats 

Record: 4-7, 0-8 Pac-12

Last meet: 6th @ Pac-12 Championship – 195.400

National Qualifying Score: 195.781

Malia Hargrove leads the Wildcats in the all-around competition with a score of 39.225.

If the Wildcats are not able to defeat Temple in the dual meet, three gymnasts will be able to qualify for nationals as individuals. Hargrove will compete in the vault and floor, while freshman Jessica Castles and sophomore Sirena Linton qualified on the beam.

Scouting the Owls 

Record: 4-14-1

Last meet: 1st @ EAGL Championship, 196.500

National Qualifying Score: 195.963

Ariana Castrence leads the team in the all-around with a score with 39.350. 

If the Owls don’t qualify as a team, Castrence, along with Julianna Roland and Faith Leary, will able to compete as individuals at nationals. Castrence will be on the all-around, Roland will compete on floor and vault and Leary will be on the floor. 

How to Support the Red Rocks

All three days of competition will be broadcast on ESPN3 with Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson Clarke. Sessions that feature Utah will also be broadcast on the home of the Utes, ESPN700.  The play-in meet will be on Thursday, April 1 while the second round will take place on Friday, April 2. The early session, which will feature Utah, is slated to begin at 1 p.m MST. The late session will be on the same day at 7 p.m. MST. The final day of the competition will take place on Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m. MST. 

Tickets for all the sessions can be purchased here.


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