No. 2 Utah Gymnastics Gets the Best of No. 13 Arizona State on Friday


Jonathan Wang

Lucy Stanhope flashing the U after a successful routine. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


It is often tough to follow up a performance like the No. 2 University of Utah gymnastics team had last week when they topped No. 3 Oklahoma. In many ways, Utah’s Pac-12 opener against No. 13 Arizona State felt like somewhat of a given for Red Rocks fans going into it. 

Facing a talented Sun Devils team, however, Utah knew that if they didn’t show up, they could lose a meet like this. In the end, Utah would emerge victorious by a final score of 197.400-196.100 in front of another impressive crowd at the Huntsman Center.

As usual, the MUSS was full and firing. It is safe to assume that the average student in the MUSS doesn’t know a great deal about the finer details of what makes for a good gymnastics routine, but they know when to cheer and how to cheer loud. 

Coming into the meet, Utah was ranked No. 3 on vault, where they began Friday night’s contest. 9.90 scores from Lucy Stanhope and Alexia Burch contributed to Utah’s overall score of 49.275 in the first rotation, but the Red Rocks were met with an almost equal performance on bars, as the Sun Devils posted a 49.225.

The second rotation would prove to be a tight one as well, as Utah shifted to bars. Alexia Burch posted a 9.90 for the Red Rocks, and once again freshman Grace McCallum shined for Utah, putting up a 9.925 score. Utah would ultimately post a 49.425, their highest score of the season on bars, which contributed to the Red Rocks’ narrow 98.700-98.400 lead after two rotations.

Admittedly, the Red Rocks had a rocky performance on beam, no pun intended. So far this season, scores above 9.850 have come to be an expectation for Utah fans, but Utah’s highly touted beam lineup struggled.

“It was just an off day,” said junior Maile O’Keefe. “You’re not going to be perfect every day, and having the pressure of being the number one beam team can definitely get to you.” 

After four consecutive scores of 9.775 or lower, Utah’s beam performance was saved by Christal Isa’s career-high 9.975 score which sent the Huntsman Center into an absolute frenzy. Jealous of the attention Isa received from her routine, Maile O’Keefe decided to give the Utah faithful something to cheer for herself, posting a 9.950, and setting the tone for the final rotation of the night.

With a slim lead of 147.725-147.475, Utah would go into the final rotation on floor knowing their win streak against Arizona State, which dates all the way back to 2003, was on the verge of being history. In order to prevent this from happening, Jillian Hoffman followed in Christal Isa’s footsteps, posting a career-high of her own, a 9.975 floor routine.

Happy for her teammate but once again looking for a major crowd reaction of her own, Maile O’Keefe posted another 9.950, which was ultimately matched by anchor Sydney Soloski with a 9.950 of her own. Like last week against Oklahoma, the last rotation on floor set Utah apart from their opponent, as Hoffman, O’Keefe and Soloski’s performances, which contributed to a 49.675 overall on floor, sealed the victory for Utah. The Red Rocks would ultimately win 197.400-196.100.


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