No. 5 Red Rocks Take Home Third Pac-12 Title in a Row


Xiangyao Tang

Utah Red Rocks’ lift the trophy after winning the Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Champions title at Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah on Saturday, March 18, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Editor


After a difficult 197.700-197.950 loss at No. 11 Oregon State, the No. 5 Red Rocks (12-3, 5-2 Pac-12) returned to Salt Lake City to compete in the Pac-12 Championships. The Red Rocks participated in Session 2, with No. 14 Arizona State, No. 19 Stanford, Washington and Arizona having already competed.

The Red Rocks faced tough competition in No. 4 UCLA, No. 7 California and No. 11 Oregon State. Taking home the conference championship in 2021 and 2022, Utah looked to become the first program to win three in a row since UCLA won four from 1987-1990.

Utah’s Maile O’Keefe was the all-around individual champion in 2021 with 39.700, including 9.950 on beam, floor and bars. O’Keefe has had a phenomenal season, breaking the school record for most perfect 10s on beam in a career (seven) and being named a finalist for the 2023 AAI Award.

Arizona State took the win in Session 1 with 196.700, followed by Arizona and Washington with 196.375 and Stanford with 195.875.

Utah got the night started on bars, with Amelie Morgan starting it off for the Red Rocks with a 9.875. Morgan was followed by freshman Makenna Smith with 9.850. O’Keefe scored a 9.925 as the Red Rocks finished bars with 49.375, sitting behind Oregon State and California.

Moving on to the beam, the Red Rocks have held the No. 1 beam spot in the nation for nine straight weeks. All four teams competing in Session 2 were top-6 in the nation on beam. Morgan once again started it off for the Red Rocks with a 9.900, followed by Smith with a 9.725 and Abby Paulson with 9.775.

Kara Eaker made up some slack with a 9.950, but Utah still needed to make up some points on their top event. Cristal Isa came in with a 9.950 of her own, leaving just O’Keefe to go. O’Keefe came in at the anchor and gave the Red Rocks their third 9.950 in a row to total 49.525 on beam.

Utah totaled 98.900 at the halfway point, just behind Oregon State with 99.000. California and UCLA trailed with 98.750. All of the teams were within .250 heading into the second half, and Utah moved on to floor.

Abby Brenner got the Red Rocks started with a 9.675 that would go on to be dropped. Jaylene Gilstrap came in next with a big 9.925 to keep the Red Rocks on track. Paulson followed Gilstrap with a 9.900 and Smith came next with a 9.925 of her own.

Jaedyn Rucker and O’Keefe came in with 9.900 and 9.950 to give all of Utah’s scoring gymnasts at least 9.900. The Red Rocks finished floor with an impressive 49.600, and gained the lead heading into the final event. Utah totaled 148.500, followed by UCLA with 148.250, California with 148.200 and Oregon State with 148.125.

Utah moved on to vault, an event they have had trouble with this season. O’Keefe started it off for the Red Rocks, posting a 9.850 and inching Utah closer to the title. Brenner had a huge 9.925 for Utah, followed by 9.825 from Gilstrap.

Lucy Stanhope made her first appearance of the night for Utah, and came in big with a 9.850. With just Smith and Rucker to go, the Red Rocks sat in a comfortable position to take their third championship in a row. Smith came in big with a 9.900 and Rucker finished the night off for the Red Rocks with a 9.900.

The Red Rocks finished with 49.425 on the vault, giving them 197.925 and their third Pac-12 championship in a row. UCLA came close with 197.850, California with 197.825 and Oregon State with 197.200.

O’Keefe finished second in all-around with 39.675, just behind Oregon State’s Jade Carey with 39.750. Despite missing star Grace McCallum, the team came together and eked out the win over tough competition.

NCAA gymnastics championships will be held April 13-15 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Red Rocks advanced to regionals and will keep their season going as their odds to make it to the NCAA championships continue to rise.


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