No. 5 Red Rocks Take NCAA Regional Title and Advance to National Championships


Xiangyao Tang

No. 5 Red Rocks Light The U after win at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Editor


After competing in the NCAA Regional Second Round on Thursday, the No. 5 Red Rocks (12-3, 5-2 Pac-12) remained in Los Angeles to compete in the NCAA Regional Final. The Red Rocks dominated their first round of regionals, scoring 198.125 and strongly beating Washington (196.775), Southern Utah (196.600) and No. 12 Auburn (195.900).

The day was highlighted by Maile O’Keefe and Jaedyn Rucker both putting up perfect 10.000s. O’Keefe’s came on the beam, her fourth of the season, to improve on her school record. Rucker’s came on the vault, helping to set a season-high 49.625 for the event.

In addition, the Red Rocks set a season-high 49.625 on bars, led by a big 9.950 from Sage Thompson. The entire team was firing on all cylinders and moved closer to their 31st NCAA regional title.

In the Regional Final, the Red Rocks faced No. 4 UCLA, No. 14 Missouri and Washington. Utah got the night started on vault, with O’Keefe getting a career-high 9.925. Abby Brenner and Jillian Hoffman followed O’Keefe, each scoring 9.900.

Makenna Smith scored a 9.850 before Rucker got another perfect 10.000 on vault, recording a perfect vault score throughout regionals. Jaylene Gilstrap finished the rotation off with a 9.825. The Red Rocks finished the vault with 49.575, leading the rest of the field.

With the lead, the Red Rocks got started on bars, led by Amelie Morgan with a 9.850, followed by Smith with a 9.875. Cristal Isa finished as the only Red Rock to hit 9.900 on bars with the team scoring 49.350. The Red Rocks would tie Missouri for the lead with 98.925, ahead of UCLA and Washington.

Next both Utah and UCLA moved to their top events: beam for the Red Rocks and floor for UCLA. Each is first in the respective events nation-wide. Morgan started the Red Rocks off with a 9.800, followed by Abby Paulson with 9.900.

Kara Eaker came next, hitting a beautiful routine to score 9.950. Isa came in with a 9.875 before O’Keefe would score Utah’s second 9.950 of the event. The Red Rocks scored 49.525 to take the lead.

With 148.450 and the lead, the Red Rocks advanced to the final event, floor. Just 0.025 points over UCLA, Brenner started Utah off on the floor. Brenner scored 9.875, followed by back-to-back 9.900s from Gilstrap and Paulson. Freshman Smith came in huge with a 9.950, and Rucker came in to give Utah the lead.

With the lead secured, the Red Rocks still had O’Keefe left to go on floor. O’Keefe would score 9.925 to give the Red Rocks 49.600 on floor and a final score of 198.050 for the win.



Since the NCAA gymnastics championship was created in 1982, the Red Rocks have advanced to every single national championship, and this year was certainly no different. The Red Rocks will compete in semifinals against UCLA, Kentucky and Oklahoma in Fort Worth, Texas on April 13.


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