No. 6 Red Rocks Take Best of State


Xiangyao Tang

Abby Brenner celebrates in the vault event in the meet versus the LSU Tigers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 6, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Editor


After winning their home opener against LSU, the No. 6 Red Rocks stayed in town to compete in the Rio Tinto Best of Utah. The Red Rocks competed against BYU, SUU and Utah State at the Maverik Center. Despite posting 197.275 against LSU last week, the Red Rocks fell in the WCGA poll.

With hopes of another trip to the national championship, every meet is crucial for Utah. Although they were the highest ranked team in the Best of Utah meet, the team is set to face the current national No. 1, Oklahoma, just next week.

But before their big matchup in Norman, the Red Rocks needed to take care of business in Salt Lake. And the Red Rocks delivered tonight, with high performances from Jaedyn Rucker, Grace McCallum and Lucy Stanhope.

Rucker led the way on the vault, posting a 9.925. McCallum posted a 9.975 on the bars along with a 9.925 on the floor. Stanhope dropped her first 9.900 of the season with a big performance on the vault.

Utah led the way at the halfway mark, with a combined 98.725 on vault and floor. Utah State followed closely behind with a 98.050, followed by SUU with 98.200 and BYU with 97.975.

The Red Rocks held a solid lead throughout the meet. They put up 49.350 on the vault behind big performances from Stanhope and Rucker. Bars saw the Red Rocks put up 49.350 as well, with none of the gymnasts scoring lower than 9.800.

Utah scored slightly higher on the floor, posting a 49.375. McCallum lead the team on the floor with her 9.925, with Jaylene Gilstrap following close behind with a 9.900.

With only beam to go, Amelie Morgan got it started for the Red Rocks, posting a strong 9.875 in what would be Utah’s highest scoring event. McCallum posted a 9.925, Abby Paulson posted a 9.900, and Kara Eaker put up a perfect 10.

Eaker’s 10.000 was the second on beam of her career (2022 NCAA Regional Finals). She was then followed by Cristal Isa who put up a 9.900. Maile O’Keefe finished it for the Red Rocks with a 9.950, giving them an impressive 49.675 on the beam.

The Red Rocks finished with the top performances in every event, and McCallum finished with the most All-Around points with 39.675.

Utah took the win with 197.750, followed SUU with 196.175, Utah State with 195.800 and BYU with 195.050. The team showed great improvement from the last week, pushing them close to the 197.925 that No. 1 Oklahoma posted last week.

The Sooners will almost certainly be the toughest challenge for the Red Rocks this season, and a matchup that may determine the standings heading into the national championship.

The Red Rocks now travel to Norman to face Oklahoma on Jan. 22. The meet will be televised on ESPN at 6:00 p.m. MST. Be sure to tune in as the Red Rocks face their toughest opponents yet.


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