No. 4 Red Rocks Fall Short in Tempe


Xiangyao Tang

Red Rocks’ celebrating the win over LSU at Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Editor


The No. 4 University of Utah Red Rocks (10-2, 3-1 Pac-12) are back on the road again this week, facing off against Arizona State. Utah competed without Grace McCallum this week, who suffered a right knee hyperextension at the Metroplex Challenge last week.

“I will be focusing on the recovery process and doing everything possible to be back on the competition floor when it is safe and healthy for my body,” McCallum said in a tweet posted by Utah Gymnastics. “As it was shown last weekend, I know my teammates will go out there and continue having each other’s backs no matter what happens.”

Despite McCallum’s early injury, the Red Rocks came out on top of the Metroplex Challenge, scoring 197.600.

“This team has a lot left to give and I can’t wait to see what the second half of the season has in store,” McCallum’s statement continued. “Don’t count us out just yet!”

Leading up to the meet against Arizona State, the Red Rocks had never lost to the Sun Devils head-to-head, an impressive 17-0 run.

Utah got the night started on bars, with Amelie Morgan posting a 9.825. Sage Thompson and Abby Brenner were the highlights for the Red Rocks, both posting a 9.925, with Maile O’Keefe and Cristal Isa following close behind, each with a 9.000 of their own. Utah finished with a 49.500, gaining the early edge on Arizona State’s 49.275 on vault.

The Red Rocks’ lead was at risk as they moved to vault. The gymnasts were struggling to stick their landings, with Jaedyn Rucker falling down and her score of 9.350 being dropped. The Red Rocks fell behind, only posting 48.925 on the vault while Arizona State set a season-high on the bars with a 49.550.

Behind 98.425 to ASU’s 98.825, the Red Rocks had some ground to cover as they moved to the floor. Brenner got it started for Utah, posting a 9.900 to kick off Utah’s 49.375 run. Arizona State scored 49.325 on beam, with Utah slightly closing the gap to 147.800-148.150.

With only beam left, the Red Rocks needed a big performance from their best event. Kara Eaker and O’Keefe are two of the top specialists in the nation on beam, and the beam team is No. 1 in the nation. Abby Paulson and Eaker both hit 9.975, and freshman Makenna Smith got a 9.925.

O’Keefe came in at the anchor as the Red Rocks narrowly trailed Arizona State. She recorded a 9.925, with all of Utah’s scoring gymnasts recording at least 9.900 in the final event of the meet. But it wouldn’t be enough for the Red Rocks, and they lost 197.500-197.550.

Although the Red Rocks weren’t able to get the win today, they put up a very respectable 197.500. If not for mistakes on the vault, the Red Rocks would have likely taken the win today. Utah fans are left wondering if the outcome may have been different if McCallum hadn’t suffered the injury last week.

The Red Rocks return home later this week to face off against No. 6 California. The meet will take place on Friday, Feb. 24 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The meet will include a Title IX celebration as well as Alumni Night, so be sure to support the Red Rocks as they get closer to the Pac-12 Championships.


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