No. 3 Utah Gymnastics Edges Out No. 22 UCLA in Classic Meet


Jonathan Wang

University of Utah freshman Grace McCallum flashing the U. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


The No. 3 University of Utah gymnastics team traveled to a familiar place to face a familiar foe on Friday night, as the Red Red Rocks faced off against No. 22 UCLA at Pauley Pavillion. Coming into Friday night’s contest, Utah had won 15 consecutive regular-season meets, a streak that included a thrilling win over the Bruins at Pauley Pavillion in 2020, with the teams being tied for No. 3 in the nation at the time. The last time the Red Rocks lost a regular-season meet? Feb. 23, 2019, against the Bruins in Los Angeles.

There was a little more excitement in the air coming into Friday’s meet, as evident by the fact that the meet was broadcast on ESPN2. On national television, Utah did not disappoint, topping the UCLA Bruins by a score of 197.750-197.650, Utah’s closest margin of victory this season, to improve to 7-0 on the season and 3-0 in Pac-12 competition.

Utah was ranked No. 6 in the nation on bars coming into the meet, where the team began Friday’s contest. Despite not having one individual bars performance that stood out as exceptional, only because they were all strong, the Red Rocks’ bars lineup was efficient across the board, posting a season-high 49.550. This featured 9.90 routines from Utah’s Amelie Morgan and Cristal Isa, but the story of the first rotation was freshman Grace McCallum nonchalantly posting a perfect 10.000 score.

The Red Rocks were also ranked No. 6 in the nation on vault, where they also posted a 49.550 in the second rotation. While Utah’s vault lineup is quite impeccable compared to the rest of the nation, as evident by the team’s No. 6 ranking, it has been considered one of the only events that could maybe be identified as a weakness for the Red Rocks this season. Overall, four different Utah gymnasts scored a 9.90 or higher on vault, including a 9.925 from Cammy Hall and a remarkable 9.95 from Lucy Stanhope.

Leading 99.100-98.725 after two rotations, Utah transitioned to floor. Again, four Utah gymnasts tallied scores above 9.90, including a 9.90 routine from McCallum. Utah has finished the night on floor for the past three meets, meaning that by the time Utah’s ringer floor anchor Syndey Soloski goes up for her routine, the meet is essentially already over. Soloski, however, had her chance to contribute in a high-pressure situation in the third rotation of a tight meet, and she did not disappoint. Soloski posted a 9.95 to contribute to Utah’s overall score of 49.600 on floor.

“I really felt they were aggressive and doing a good job on bars, vault and floor,” said head coach Tom Farden on the team’s performance through three rotations. “I know on vault and floor we had a couple mistakes, but we thought the momentum was going Utah’s way.”

Utah entered the final rotation with a 148.700-148.050, and most Red Rocks fans assumed at this point that the meet was over, especially considering Utah was finishing off the night with perhaps their strongest event, beam. This meet, however, was far from over.

Utah’s Morgan kicked off the final rotation with a 9.90, however, Adrienne Randall and McCallum followed with scores of 9.35 and 9.15 after both falling, a rare sight from Utah’s highly-touted beam lineup. To make matters worse, UCLA’s Jordan Chiles posted a perfect 10 on floor, narrowing the gap between the two teams. UCLA also saw 9.925 floor routines from Pauline Tratz and Chae Campbell.

In order to keep their 15-meet regular-season win streak alive, Utah needed exceptional performances on their final three beam routines. Abby Paulson and Isa accepted the challenge, posting 9.90 and 9.925 scores, respectfully.

It all came down to junior Maile O’Keefe, who was coming off of a perfect 10.000 beam score in last week’s meet against Stanford. On national television, O’Keefe was unfazed by the moment, posting a 9.975 to help Utah escape Pauley Pavilion with a 197.750-197.650 victory.

Overall, Friday’s meet was a classic, and the atmosphere was electric. Utah ultimately showed their character as a team, especially considering that Pauley Pavilion is arguably the second-toughest place for visiting teams in the Pac-12 — behind the Huntsman Center, of course.

“I am very impressed with the athletes’ fortitude to come down with the win in a very hostile environment,” Farden said.

So far this year, Utah has faced a top 25 opponent in every single meet, and will not be getting a break in the schedule, as they travel to the Bay Area to face No. 10 University of California, Berkeley next Saturday at 5 p.m. MST.


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