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No. 5 Utah Travels to No. 21 BYU for First Road Meet in 2017

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Alex Stark

The No. 5 Utah Red Rocks (1-0) will travel to No. 21 BYU (2-1) today for their first road meet in 2017. Utah opened the 2017 season with a dominant 196.625-195.525 win over No. 11 Michigan in the Huntsman Center. BYU (194.225) placed second in a quad meet at Penn State, losing to No. 18 Penn State (194.625) and beating Temple (191.925) and Bowling Green (190.725). The meet starts at 7 p.m. MDT in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. Live scores are available on utahutes.com, and television coverage of the meet is available on BYUtv.

“Our girls [are] dealing with their first road meet this year. Again, some young people having to get there and deal with different surroundings, deal with different equipment, and handle the fact that there will be plenty of fans there cheering against them or for another team. That will be mostly our focus certainly by Friday that's what will be the task at hand,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden.

Utah is riding a 36-meet winning streak against BYU. Utah is 94-2 against BYU (26-2 in Provo). The last time Utah lost to BYU was in 1998. They also fell at BYU in 1994, but there was protesting over scores in that meet, leading Utah to not finish the meet.

“We always love competing against our team down south. It's a fun competitions fun; It’s a fun environment. We know it's a little hostile down there but nothing we can't handle. We go in with the confidence that we took from Saturday and work on the little minor details that we are training right now during these few days before we hit the competition for on Friday. We're ready to meet BYU and show them what Utah's got,” said junior Maddie Stover.

While Utah gymnastics has many rivals on the national level (like Georgia) that they face on a regular basis at national meets, the rivalry with BYU is different for them since BYU is an institution-wide rival for Utah.

“I think what's fun about the BYU rivalry is that it's bigger than gymnastics. It is department-wide, and I think for our athletes and for we coaches, it makes it a little more interesting. I mean we know who our rivals are in gymnastics that we are up against in the national championships, but we know that all of our other teams on campus are hoping we can beat them because we all take pride in that,” said Marsden.

After defeating Michigan 196.625-195.525, the Red Rocks moved up from their No. 6 preseason ranking to No. 5. After one meet, Utah ranks No. 4 on bars (49.275 average), tied for No. 5 on beam (49.225), No. 6 on vault (49.100) and tied for No. 7 on floor (49.025). Senior Baely Rowe is tied for No. 3 individually on beam (9.925). Freshman MyKayla Skinner is ranked No. 4 in the all-around (39.550), tied for No. 4 on bars (9.90), tied with teammate sophomore MaKenna Merrell for No. 6 on floor (9.90), and tied for No. 8 on vault (9.90). Merrell, in addition to being tied for No. 6 on floor, is tied for 10th in the all-around (39.425).

After her stellar Utah debut, Skinner was named the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week and Pac-12 Freshman of the Week. She delighted crowd of more than 14,000 at the Huntsman Center with a 39.550 in the all-around. In her first meet at Utah, she won or shared the win in the all-around (39.550), bars (9.90), floor (9.90), and vault (9.90).

“[MyKayla Skinner] has a lot of experience in front of large crowds and that became obvious that not even a big crowd of the Huntsman Center crew rattled her in her first meet on the floor,” said Marsden.

BYU is coached by former Olympic silver medalist Guard Young, who is in his second year at BYU. BYU’s top all-around gymnast is Shannon Hortman (38.925). The BYU gymnastics team features 19 gymnasts, 10 of whom are freshmen.

“[It’s] just the legacy that’s been going on for these past I don’t know how many years that the rivalry has been going on between BYU and Utah. It’s fun seeing how us being the next generation going against BYU compared to 10 years ago, and it’s still the same rivalry,” said sophomore Kari Lee.