No. 2 Utah Gymnastics Beats No. 19 Stanford with Impressive Beam Performance


University of Utah women’s gymnastics’ Maile O’Keefe performs on the balance beam in a dual meet vs. Arizona State at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


After a relatively rocky win over the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils last week, the No. 2 University of Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team stormed into Saturday afternoon’s meet against No. 19 Stanford looking for a better overall performance this week. Ultimately, the Red Rocks performance against the Cardinal resembled that of their victory over the then-ranked No. 2 Oklahoma a few weeks back.

Per usual, Utah began the meet on vault, posting an overall score of 49.125, compared to Stanford’s 49.025 on bars. The highlight of the first rotation for the Red Rocks was senior Alexia Burch’s 9.90 score. Burch’s efforts on vault gave the packed Huntsman Center its first spectacle to cheer for, as the crowd erupted.

Utah then transitioned to bars, where they came into Saturday’s meet ranked No. 6 in the nation. While not her strongest individual event, Utah senior Cristal Isa posted an incredibly impressive 9.95. Junior Maile O’Keefe followed suit with a 9.90 of her own, helping expand Utah’s lead to 98.525-97.900 after two rotations.

After bars came beam, easily the most anticipated event for the Red Rocks coming into the meet. Utah was ranked No. 3 in the nation on beam coming into Saturday, and many would argue that their beam lineup is worthy of the No. 1 spot. The Red Rocks put up a compelling argument in favor of this notion.

Amelie Morgan opened up the beam rotation for Utah, posting a 9.825. While this was impressive, it was indeed just the start for the Red Rocks. After a 9.85 from senior Adrienne Randall, freshman Grace McCallum tallied a career-high 9.95. Granted, McCallum is only a freshman, but the 2020 Olympic silver-medalist has already sent a message to the rest of the NCAA.

Naturally, McCallum’s 9.95, which took place right by the MUSS, caused the noise level to rise to ear-shattering levels. Jealous, Abby Paulson wanted to see if she could force the Huntsman Center to become even louder. It is up to one’s interpretation whether McCallum or Paulson caused a bigger crowd reaction, but needless to say, the Huntsman Center was shaking after Paulson posted a 9.95 of her own.

In her best event, Cristal Isa, who was ranked No. 6 on beam before Saturday, posted a 9.925. At this point, it had already been established that Utah’s beam lineup was having a performance to remember. The icing on the cake? A legitimate perfect score, 10.000, from Maile O’Keefe.

“Bars and beam were some of our season’s best, if not our best,” said head coach Tom Farden in regards to the team’s performance.

Carrying a 148.250-147.075 lead going into the final rotation, it was pretty much established that Utah had this meet secured. This didn’t stop Grace McCallum from finishing the afternoon with a 9.95 floor routine. In the end, Utah would top Stanford 197.675-196.000. All in all, it was a solid afternoon for the No. 2 Red Rocks.

The Red Rocks now look forward to next Friday, as they travel to Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, California to face the UCLA Bruins, a team that has proven to be quite a rival for Utah over the past few seasons.


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