No. 4 Red Rocks Dominate Metroplex Challenge


Xiangyao Tang

No. 4 Red Rocks’ celebrating the win over No. 5 UCLA at Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Editor


The No. 4 Red Rocks (9-1, 2-0 Pac-12) are back on the road after a pair of home victories. They took the 197.975-196.350 win over No. 25 Washington on Jan. 28, and the 198.200-197.450 win over No. 6 UCLA.

The Red Rocks joined elite company with their win over UCLA, joining just No. 2 Michigan and No. 1 Oklahoma as the only teams to top 198.000 this season. Utah also holds the top spot in the Pac-12, with UCLA coming in at sixth nationally and Cal at seventh.

Utah matched up with No. 18 Georgia, No. 22 Illinois and No. 49 Illinois State in Fort Worth, Texas. The Red Rocks are hoping this won’t be their last time in Fort Worth, as the 2023 NCAA Gymnastics Championships will be held in Fort Worth as well.

With the top eight teams competing in the championships, the Red Rocks are well on pace to compete for their first championship win since 1995.

But before getting too far ahead of themselves, the Red Rocks need to take it day by day.

Starting on vault, the Red Rocks totaled 48.975, with Abby Brenner, Makenna Smith and Jillian Hoffman all scoring 9.800. Jaedyn Rucker led Utah with a 9.85.

The Red Rocks trailed after the first event, with Illinois scoring 49.175 on the floor. Looking to regain the lead, Utah moved on to the bars.

The second rotation saw all of the Red Rocks score at least 9.875 on the bars, with Cristal Isa closing the rotation with a career-high 9.975. Smith recorded a season-high 9.900. The team totaled 49.550 on the bars, taking the lead with 98.525 through two events.

With Illinois coming second at 98.000, the Red Rocks held a strong lead as they moved to the beam. Last week, O’Keefe recorded a perfect 10.000 on the beam,and Kara Eaker recorded a 9.975, proving why they are the top beam team in the nation.

With expectations high, the Red Rocks met them once again. O’Keefe was certainly the highlight, coming in at the anchor. She recorded yet another perfect 10.000, the sixth of her career on beam, tying Theresa Kulikowski for the school record on beam.

The Red Rocks put together 49.600 on the beam, strengthening their lead and totaling 148.125 through three rotations.

With only floor to go, Brenner got the Red Rocks started with a 9.875. Eaker, Rucker, Smith and Jaylene Gilstrap all scored 9.900 for Utah, giving the team a 49.475 in the final event.

The Red Rocks continue to prove why they are one of the top teams in the nation. They finished with 197.600, far ahead of the competition. Illinois totaled 196.300, Georgia totaled 196.100 and Illinois State finished last with 195.850.

With this victory, the Red Rocks will remain on the road, traveling to Tempe to take on No. 20 Arizona State. The meet will take place on Monday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. MST. Make sure to tune in to Pac-12 Networks as the Red Rocks look to extend their winning streak.


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