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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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No. 4 Red Rocks Suffer First Conference Loss to No. 3 California

Despite strong scores in the second half of the meet, the Red Rocks were unable to keep up with California and their astounding score on bars.
Utah+gymnast+Grace+McCallum+celebrates+with+her+teammates+after+her+floor+routine+versus+the+Arizona+State+Sun+Devils+at+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Friday%2C+Jan.+26%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+%E2%80%9CAxe%E2%80%9D+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Xiangyao Tang
Utah gymnast Grace McCallum celebrates with her teammates after her floor routine versus the Arizona State Sun Devils at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

After a dominant win against Stanford, the No. 4 Red Rocks (9-4, 5-1 Pac-12) took to the road to face No. 3 California. The Golden Bears are coming off of a historic week, recording a program-high 198.400 against UCLA last week. This was the first time this season that California eclipsed the 198.000 mark.

Meanwhile, the Red Rocks also hit that mark, scoring 198.075 against Stanford. Coming into the matchup, both teams were undefeated in conference competition, with huge implications for the Pac-12 regular season title. Utah has tied or won the last four regular season titles, looking for five in a row.

Starting on bars, Makenna Smith started for the Red Rocks with 9.825. Abby Paulson came next, scoring 9.750 after a shaky dismount. Ella Zirbes came in with a much needed 9.900 to keep the Red Rocks on pace with California. Maile O’Keefe wasn’t able to stick her landing, scoring 9.850 before Grace McCallum scored a team-high 9.950. Alani Sabado came in at the anchor spot, scoring a 9.875 that would negate Paulson’s 9.750 and give Utah 49.400 on bars.

Through the first rotation, both teams tied at 49.400. Moving to vault, Camie Winger got things started with a 9.850, not quite the 9.950 she scored last week. Zirbes came next, scoring 9.850 of her own. Ashley Glynn came next, after seeing a non-scoring exhibition routine on bars. Glynn came in with 9.900 before Smith scored an unfortunate 9.525 that would later be dropped. Jaedyn Rucker got 9.900 before Jaylene Gilstrap scored 9.800 at the anchor spot.

Utah scored 49.300 on vault, giving the team a respectable 98.700 through two events. Meanwhile, the Golden Bears finished their rotation on bars with three straight 9.975s. California scored 49.725 on bars, the second-highest in program history and a season-high. With the astoundingly high score, California took a 99.125-98.700 lead moving into the second half of the meet.

With floor next, Paulson got things started with another iconic performance to Taylor Swift. Paulson scored 9.875, followed by Zirbes with 9.925. Rucker came in big with 9.900 and Gilstrap matched Zirbes with 9.925. O’Keefe came in with a team-high 9.950 and McCallum scored 8.675 at the anchor spot.

Although McCallum wasn’t able to expand on Utah’s score, the Red Rocks still scored 49.575 and shrunk the lead. With just one event to go, California held a 148.525-148.275 lead. Even if the Red Rocks scored a perfect beam rotation, they would need a little bit of luck to come out on top.

With just beam left, Winger got the Red Rocks started with 9.850. Elizabeth Gantner came next, scoring 9.825. McCallum came next, redeeming her unfortunate performance on floor with 9.900. Paulson delivered a huge 9.925, and O’Keefe scored 9.925. With just Gilstrap to go, the meet seemed all but over. Gilstrap had a fall, scoring 9.075 and giving the Red Rocks 49.425 on beam.

Despite strong scores in the second half of the meet, the Red Rocks were unable to keep up with California and their astounding score on bars. Utah now remains on the road, visiting Tucson to face the University of Arizona. The meet will be held on Friday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m. MST and 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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