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No. 4 Red Rocks Take Down Stanford in Taylor Swift-Themed Meet

McCallum’s performance was Utah’s first 10.000 on floor since MyKayla Skinner at the 2019 Pac-12 Championship.
The+Utah+Red+Rocks+and+former+Utah+gymnasts+light+the+U+after+defeating+the+Stanford+Cardinal+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+23%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+%E2%80%9CAxe%E2%80%9D+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Xiangyao Tang
The Utah Red Rocks and former Utah gymnasts light the U after defeating the Stanford Cardinal at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

After back-to-back road conference games, the No. 4 Utah Red Rocks (9-3, 5-0 Pac-12) returned to the Jon M. Huntsman Center to face the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford has had a rough season, going just 1-7 before traveling to Salt Lake City.

On the other hand, the Red Rocks have found their momentum after a slow start to the season. Since finishing fourth at the Sprouts Farmers Market Collegiate Quad the Red Rocks haven’t lost a meet. Utah is 7-0 in that stretch, including a first-place finish at the Rio Tinto Best of Utah meet.

The meet had a very unique theme: the Red Rocks Eras Tour, a nod to Taylor Swift. Abby Paulson, long-time Swift fan, helped promote the meet. Paulson is typically found performing to Swift on Utah’s top-notch beam team and has a unique Swift medley for her floor routine. The meet included special merchandise, as well as “Finish the Lyric” and “Guess the Song” games throughout the meet.

The Red Rocks started the night on vault with a stick from Camie Winger that got the crowd on their feet. Her vault was nearly perfect, scoring 9.950. Winger was followed by Ella Zirbes with 9.925. Ashley Glynn stepped up next, scoring 9.850 before Makenna Smith scored 9.825. Jaedyn Rucker came in with 9.850. Jaylene Gilstrap finished things off with 9.825 to give the Red Rocks 49.400 on vault.

The Red Rocks rotation tied their second-highest vault rotation of the season, matching their score at the Collegiate Quad and falling just behind their 49.525 performance against Oregon State. Moving to bars, the Red Rocks held a 49.400-49.300 lead.

Smith got things started on bars, firing the crowd up with 9.975. With this performance, Smith set her new career high after scoring 9.900 on the event the last two weeks, her former career high. Paulson got a 9.775, followed by 9.925 from Zirbes. Maile O’Keefe came in with 9.925 of her own, disappointing many fans who hoped for a perfect 10. Grace McCallum scored 9.800 before Alani Sabado delivered 9.825 at the anchor position.

The Red Rocks finished with 49.450 on bars, totaling 98.850 through two events. With a strong 98.850-98.225 lead, the Red Rocks moved onto the second half of the meet.

Smith once again got things started, this time on beam. After Smith’s 9.825, Elizabeth Gantner got a 9.775. McCallum got the crowd on their feet with 9.975, followed by another 9.975 in one of Paulson’s iconic Swift routines. O’Keefe came next, scoring the third consecutive 9.975 for the Red Rocks. Despite the high scores, Utah fans voiced their disappointment at the judges as they wanted to see a perfect 10. Winger rounded out the rotation with 9.750 as the Utah lead expanded.

Despite the crowd’s disappointment at the lack of a perfect 10, the Red Rocks scored 49.525 on beam while Stanford scored 49.050 on floor. Holding a 148.375-147.275 lead, there was nothing but smiles from the Red Rocks squad.

Paulson, somewhat obviously, got things started on floor for the Red Rocks. Performing to a remix of Swift’s “Shake it Off,” Paulson tied her career-high with 9.925. Zirbes followed with a 9.950 before Gilstrap scored 9.900. Rucker came in with 9.850 before Utah fans got the moment they’d been waiting for: McCallum set a career-high on floor with a perfect 10. McCallum’s performance was Utah’s first 10.000 on floor since MyKayla Skinner at the 2019 Pac-12 Championship. O’Keefe came in at the anchor with 9.925 to give the Red Rocks a season-high 49.700 on floor.

As the meet finished, the Red Rocks tallied 198.075, the first time this season they have eclipsed the 198.000 mark. Stanford was unable to keep up, as the Red Rocks won 198.075- 196.625.

After the meet, the Red Rocks continued the Red Rocks Eras Tour theme by bringing out former Red Rocks from a variety of eras.

The Red Rocks now have two road meets before returning to the Huntsman Center for the final time this season, at Cal and Arizona. March 15 will be Senior Night, honoring five Red Rocks who will finish their final year with the team. Two seniors, Sabado and Gilstrap, and three fifth-years, O’Keefe, Paulson and Rucker will be recognized for their time with the Red Rocks.

The meet will be held at 7:00 p.m. MST at the Huntsman Center, as the Red Rocks face Utah State and Stanford in a tri-meet. Tickets are available here, and the meet will be broadcast on Pac-12 Insider.

 

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@seanoverton3

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About the Contributors
Sean Overton, Sports Editor
Sean Overton is the Editor of the Sports Desk. He is currently a senior and is majoring in Business Administration with plans to attend law school.
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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