The No. 4 Utah gymnastics squad (4-0, 0-0 Pac-12) takes on the No. 8 UCLA Bruins (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) tonight starting at 5:45 p.m. in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The Red Rocks are the defending Pac-12 Champions, and the Bruins are the greatest threat to Utah repeating.
Utah has won two meets, beating BYU in Provo and No. 23 Southern Utah, Boise State, and UC Davis at home. UCLA has beaten No. 9 Oregon State on the road and No. 22 Arizona at home, so the Bruins have the early edge as far as strength of schedule and quality of competition. But the Utes do have the home floor advantage in front of their usually raucous 14,000+.
Utah and UCLA met a record five times last season, with the Red Rocks coming out on top four times, including in the Pac-12 Championship, the NCAA Regionals, and the NCAA Championships. Utah holds a 47-25-1 record against the Bruins, and a 23-2 advantage in the Huntsman Center. Utah and UCLA have claimed two of the three Pac-12 Gymnastics titles. Utah has qualified for a record 39 national championships, winning 10, UCLA has qualified for 32 national championships, winning six.
UCLA is led by head coach Valorie Kondos Field, who is in her 26th year coaching the Bruins. She coached UCLA to a No. 8 finish last year at the NCAAs.
Utah is again led by co-head coaches Greg and Megan Marsden, who split Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors last year. Greg is the NCAA career leader in wins (1,022-205-7) and has coached at Utah for 40 years (since the program's inception).
The meet will feature the top two rated all-around gymnasts in Utah's Georgia Dabritz (39.60 average), who won Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week last week, and UCLA's Samantha Peszek (39.55 average). Peszek won the NCAA title on balance beam in 2011 and was an Olympic silver medalist on balance beam for the United States in 2008. UCLA sophomore Jennifer Pinches was also an Olympian for Britain in 2012. Utah is slated to have Dabritz, Tory Wilson, and Baely Rowe compete for the all-around. Dabritz (39.60) and Wilson (39.45) have the highest all-around scores for the Red Rocks.
Two Red Rocks are slated to make their their debuts in freshman Samantha Partyka (vault) and senior All-American Becky Tutka (floor), who has missed the first two meets due to a wrist injury.
Utah gymnastics have designated this meet as their annual blackout, so remember to wear black Utah apparel to the Huntsman Center, as the Red Rocks try to Blackout the Bruins. Live television coverage is provided tonight courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks, beginning at 6 p.m. MT. (This meet is the only opportunity of the year for autographs, which will be available after the meet.)