No. 4 Utah Gymnastics Suffers Heartbreaking Loss to Arizona


Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah women’s gymnastics freshman Abby Paulson performs on the balance beam in the Deseret dual meet vs. BYU, Utah State, and Southern Utah University at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


The last time the No. 4 University of Utah gymnastics team lost, it was surprising, but not necessarily what one would call shocking, as they fell to the then-No.11 University of California, Berkeley. Friday night’s loss in Tucson to the University of Arizona, however, was unexpected, to say the least.

Off nights happen in sports, and it is rather safe to say that it was simply just an off night for the University of Utah Red Rocks. In essentially every event across the board, Utah did not perform up to their standards.

The Red Rocks opened up the night on bars, posting only one score above 9.90, which came from Sage Thompson who tallied a 9.925. Despite the relatively rocky start, Utah still led 49.350-49.075 after the first rotation and appeared to still be more than in control of the meet.

Utah transitioned to vault for the second rotation, again only posting one score above 9.90, which came from an impressive 9.95 routine from Jaedyn Rucker. At this point, while Utah certainly wasn’t happy with their overall performance up to this point, the Red Rocks and their fans were nowhere near ready to hit the panic button, as they led 98.650-98.275 with two rotations in the books.

While Utah’s floor lineup has been consistently reliable so far this season, they too did not have their best night, although their performance was certainly an improvement from the first two rotations. On floor, Utah posted a 49.400, with their highest scores coming from Grace McCallum and Maile O’Keefe, both of whom posted 9.925 scores.

Going into the final rotation, the Red Rocks held a 148.050-147.550 lead. With Utah transitioning to beam for the final rotation, arguably their best event with a lineup that is regarded as one of, if not the best in the nation, any gymnastics fan would assume that this meet was over and that Utah would wrap up Pac-12 play with yet another victory.

Nobody could have anticipated what happened next. While Grace McCallum and Abby Paulson both scored 9.90’s, Utah also saw a 9.075 from Cristal Isa, essentially her first slip-up of a season which has been full of a multitude of great performances, including her perfect 10 last week against Oregon State. In addition to this, Adrienne Randall scored an 8.925, an uncharacteristic performance considering how Randall has been one of the more consistently reliable gymnasts for Utah this season.

Utah’s struggles on beam could not be reversed, even though Maile O’Keefe closed out the meet with a 9.975. In the end, the Red Rocks would fall by the ever slight margin of 196.850-197.775. Friday night’s meet was Utah’s last Pac-12 meet of the season, meaning they will close out Pac-12 competition with a 5-2 conference record, and 9-2 overall record on the season.

Friday was the University of Arizona’s first victory over Utah in school history. While Utah did not perform up to their standards, Arizona ultimately had an impressive performance. Arizona’s victory was secured by a 9.850 floor score from Malia Hargrove.

“I didn’t know how close we were, I just knew I was on floor, I was anchor and I had to show up” said Hargrove in regards to her thought process before the final routine of the meet.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Red Rocks, who sit in second place in the Pac-12. Utah returns home next Friday to face the University of Minnesota at the Huntsman Center.


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