No. 4 Utah Gymnastics Beats No. 3 Oklahoma on National Television


Jonathan Wang

(Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


You know it’s a big event for Utah sports when the upper deck at the Huntsman Center isn’t covered by curtains. The Huntsman Center was indeed vibrant on Friday night, as the No. 4 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team played host to the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners. The MUSS, which was voted the Taco Bell Live Más Student Section of the Year in 2021, was packed from the first row to the nose bleeds. 

Friday’s matchup was easily the most anticipated meet of the season for Utah gymnastics. Needless to say, the meet lived up to the excitement, as Utah handed Oklahoma their first regular-season loss since 2018.

Utah began the meet on vault, while Oklahoma opened on bars. Freshman Grace McCallum and senior Cammy Hall both posted 9.90 scores, much to the delight of the Red Rocks faithful in attendance. The biggest story of the first rotation, however, was when Utah sophomore Lucy Stanhope, native of Warrington, England, posted a 9.925 on vault, causing the Huntsman Center to shake. Utah and Oklahoma would finish the first rotation tied at 49.450.

Utah moved to bars during the second rotation, which ultimately saw 9.875 performances from junior Maile O’Keefe and McCallum, a 9.850 from Cristal Isa and a 9.925 score from freshman Sage Thompson.

Oklahoma would ultimately post a 49.325 on vault, in large part thanks to a 9.975 routine from freshman Jordan Bowers, while Utah scored a 49.350 on bars, giving the Red Rocks a slim lead of 98.800-98.775 after two rotations. The University of Oklahoma gymnastics Twitter page summed up the mood in the building after two rotations: 

The Utah beam lineup clearly ate their Wheaties this morning. Abby Paulsen had a solid 9.900 performance, while Isa, McCallum and O’Keefe all scored 9.925s. Utah’s combined beam score of 49.475 and Oklahoma’s 49.200 combined floor score extended the Red Rocks’ lead to 148.275 to 147.975 heading into the final rotation.

Right before the start of the fourth rotation, the entire Huntsman Center crowd stood up and yelled the Utah fight song, a chilling demonstration of school spirit. The feeling in the air was similar to when the No. 24 ranked Utah football team was heading into the fourth quarter knowing they were most likely about to upset No. 3 Oregon and prove they were better than their ranking. Coming into the season, the general sentiment among the Red Rocks was that while being ranked No.4 was an honor, the team had something to prove.

With Utah holding a slight lead, it all came down to the final rotation with Utah on floor and Oklahoma on beam. With the meet essentially on the line, Olympic silver medalist McCallum went third on floor for Utah. Not only did McCallum clearly eat her Wheaties like the rest of Utah’s beam lineup, but she must have had some Muscle Milk to go with it, as the freshman capped off her night with a 9.975 floor score and an MVP award.

“Grace came to play. I think last week she was a little disappointed with how she did,” said Utah coach Tom Farden on McCallum’s performance. “We made some adjustments on floor and she did them. As a coach that’s all you can ask for — she’s a quick study.”

Utah junior Jaedyn Rucker must have been jealous of the reaction McCallum received from the crowd after her floor routine, as she went out and posted a 9.925, throwing Red Rocks nation into a frenzy as Utah inched closer to victory. While a couple of falls by Oklahoma in the final rotation sealed the victory for Utah, floor anchor Sydney Soloski gave the crowd one last thing to cheer about with a 9.925 routine.

“It felt really sweet I think to go out there and just do as well as we did, and I don’t know if the opponent was really that big of a factor in how good this one feels,” Soloski said. “To me, this one is more about the score and this was just such a confidence booster for this team.”

Utah ultimately sent a message to the rest of the nation on Friday night, beating No. 3 Oklahoma by a final score of 197.775 to 196.650. Make no mistake, even though the MUSS didn’t storm the floor after, this was a big win for Utah. The Red Rocks now look forward to next Friday as they host Arizona State at home to open up Pac-12 competition.


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