No. 6 Red Rocks Cruise to Victory in First Round of Salt Lake City Regional

University+of+Utah+sophomore+Maile+O%27Keefe+at+the+NCAA+Regionals+Gymnastics+meet+at+the+Maverik+Center+in+West+Valley%2C+Utah+on+Friday%2C+Apr.+02%2C+2021.+%28Photo+by+Kevin+Cody+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah sophomore Maile O’Keefe at the NCAA Regionals Gymnastics meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley, Utah on Friday, Apr. 02, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor

 

The No. 6 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team’s postseason hopes continue, as they easily cruised to victory in session one of the Salt Lake City Regional competition. The Red Rocks posted a score of 197.500 and will advance to the second round of the regional competition along with Arizona State. 

The Red Rocks were hot right out of the gates, posting a team score of 49.550 on the beam. Maile O’Keefe and Abby Paulson led the charge for the Red Rocks on the event with scores of 9.950 and 9.925 respectively. Cristal Isa and Adrienne Randall scored a pair of 9.900s to boost the Red Rocks scores. 

From there on out, no one came close to the Red Rocks. At the end of the first rotation they had a lead of 0.225 over second place ASU. But by the end of the second rotation the lead had grown to 0.800 in favor of the Red Rocks. 

Even though the team had to finish on two of their weakest events, vault and bars, there was no need for the team to hold their breath, as they were able to keep the meet relatively clean and will advance to the finals meet tomorrow. 

O’Keefe was able to win the all-around at the competition, scoring a 39.575. Her beam score was also enough to claim the victory for this meet. 

While posting a good score was important heading into the finals, the team had other goals they wanted to accomplish today. 

“Our goal was just to stay clean and confident and consistent across the whole meet, we still have a lot to improve on and more potential in us, but we did what we needed to do to move on to the finals for regionals,” Paulson said post meet. 

This will be the first time this season that the Red Rocks will compete in back to back meets. But head coach Tom Farden says this is something that the team has been preparing for over the last few months. 

“What we were doing or prescribing is the first day of gymnastics is fine, in terms of like they were today, a little steppy, you know, some minor mistakes here and there,” Farden said.  “Generally this team, and we’ll see tomorrow I mean, it’s like, it’s always an experiment, especially back to back days. But generally, they’ve been a little bit sharper, so we’re really anxious to see if it works.” 

While it remains to be seen who from the late session will be advancing with the Red Rocks and Sun Devils, No. 3 LSU seems to be the frontrunner. The last time the Red Rocks made it to the regional finals, in 2019, they came in second place to the Tigers. 

“I think the athletes remember that, but we do know what’s on the line in terms of living to fight another day and in all reality, top two get through, but we sure would like to work for and have an opportunity to win another regional crown,” Farden said. 

But when two heavyweights clash, it guarantees heavy competition and a high dose of excitement for the members of the team. 

“I think we’re more excited. I think it’s always fun competing against LSU because they have such a big name and we’re such a big name and then everyone’s just expecting a great meet and that’s exactly what’s gonna happen tomorrow,” Isa said. 

The late session of the regional semifinal between No. 3 LSU, No. 14 Kentucky, Utah State and Arizona is set to begin at 7 p.m MST. Utah and ASU will then face the top two teams from that meet tomorrow, Saturday, April 3 at 7 p.m. MST. A limited number of tickets are still available here. Fans can also watch the meet on ESPN3.  

 

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