The No. 6 Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12) will compete at No. 5 Michigan (9-3, 4-1 Big Ten) today, Friday, Mar. 4 in Ann Arbor, Mich. at 7 p.m. ET/5 p.m. MT in Crisler Arena. The meet will be streamed live on BTN2Go (to watch, viewers may log on through their cable or satellite provider with no additional fee). There will also be delayed televised on the Big Ten Network. The meet can also be tracked live with commentary and scores at UtahUtes.com.
While the Red Rocks hold a 26-13 all-time lead in the series with Michigan, they are only 3-7 in Ann Arbor, with their last win in Crisler Arena coming in 2012. Utah faced Michigan twice last season (in Salt Lake City and at the NCAA Championships), winning both meets, which snapped a two-meet losing streak to Michigan.
Michigan is led by 27th year head coach Bev Plocki. Last season, Michigan finished seventh at nationals. Michigan has two all-arounders are ranked in the top 10: No. 5 Olivia Karas and No. 10 Nicole Artz. Michigan scored a season-high 197.275 last week in a loss at No. 1 Oklahoma, who scored a 198.075. Michigan has wins over No. 9 Arkansas and No. 10 Georgia this season. Their lowest score of the year (195.750) came in a loss at Southern Utah (Utah won at Southern Utah earlier this year scoring a 196.725).
Including sophomore all-arounder Kari Lee (who is out for the season with an Achilles tear suffered in practice earlier this season), Utah will be short three All-Americans on various events for the second week in a row. After sitting out last week, junior three-event starter Kailah Delaney is tentatively scheduled to return to the vault lineup. She will not compete on beam and floor while she still recovers from a sore knee. For the second week, sophomore all-arounder Samantha Partyka will compete only on bars and beam to rest a lower leg injury that has slowed her this season. Delaney has a 9.90 season best on all three of her events. Partyka has scored a season-best 9.975 on floor (which is tied with Breanna Hughes for the season-high on the event) and a 9.875 on vault. Getting both gymnasts healthy before nationals is the top priority.
The replacement gymnasts for Delaney and Partyka: freshman MaKenna Merrell (vault, beam), freshman Erika Muhaw (vault), sophomore Maddy Stover (floor) and junior Baely Rowe (floor), fared well in their individual events. Merrell, Muhaw (in her first event to count in college), and Stover both posted career-highs in their respective events, and Rowe won the all-around.
Partially due to injury and partially to find the right lineup, the Red Rocks have used a different lineup (either personnel or order of competitors) in all eight meets this season. Rowe made her first appearance of the season in the all-around last week, scoring a career-high 39.450, which was good enough for the win in the event against Cal. After her strong performance, Rowe is tentatively scheduled to again compete in the all-around today at Michigan. Muhaw is the backup for Delaney on vault (if she is not able to compete) will go exhibition on floor as well (and could compete in the event if one of her teammates is not able to compete).
One constant this season has been senior Breanna Hughes. She leads the team with 13 wins. She has been named Pac-12 Specialist of the Week on Jan. 19 and March 1.
This will be the final away regular-season meet this season for the Red Rocks. Their final regular-season meet of the 2016 season is Saturday, March 12 against No. 10 Georgia at the Huntsman Center at 5:00 p.m. MT.