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No. 6 Utah Red Rocks Host No. 7 Michigan Wolverines to Open 2017 Season

Breanna Hughes Michigan Deena Lofgren

It is a top 10 showdown to start the 2017 gymnastics season for the No. 6 Utah Red Rocks (0-0) when they host the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (0-0) at 5:00 p.m. MDT tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 7, at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. If you are attending the meet, make sure to be in your seats by 4:45 p.m. MDT for the team introductions. If you cannot make it to the meet in person, there will be television coverage of the top 10 matchup on Pac-12 Network.

The Red Rocks showed off excellent routines in the annual Red Rocks Preview back in December and looked ready then for the 2017 season. Utah is led by co-captains senior Baely Rowe and junior Maddy Stover. Rowe is the only senior on this young Red Rocks team. Rowe and Stover along with sophomores Kari Lee and Sabrina Schwab make up the four returning All-Americans for the Red Rocks and are among the eight returning letterwinners. After missing most of the 2016 season with a torn Achilles tendon, Lee is getting a second sophomore season this year. Utah returns the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year (Schwab), and the Pac-12 Champions on beam (Rowe) and floor (junior Tiffani Lewis).

This will also be the first meet for sophomore Macey Roberts, who transferred to Utah from Maryland, and freshmen Missy Reinstadtler, MyKayla Skinner, and Kim Tessen. Skinner, who is scheduled to compete in the all-around, was the first alternate to the U.S. Olympic Team that won the gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She was also the all-around champion at the 2016 Glasgow World Cup. Make sure to pay a close eye on Skinner’s first tumbling pass on the floor exercise because she does a double twisting double back, one of the toughest elements you will see in college gymnastics. Skinner has a reputation for performing difficult routines, as only Simone Biles performed more challenging routines than Skinner at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

MaKenna Merrell and Schwab are scheduled to make their debuts in the all-around against Michigan. Rowe is scheduled to perform in three events (bars, beam and floor). Roberts is scheduled to compete on floor, and Tessen is slotted for both bars and vault.

Utah holds a 27-13 lead in the all-time series against Michigan and has won the last three meetings. The Red Rocks are 11-2 in Salt Lake City against the Wolverines.

Michigan is coached by 28th year head coach Bev Plocki. Under her watch, she has guided Michigan gymnastics to 21 Big Ten championships. The Wolverines have also made 22 NCAA Championship appearances and 10 NCAA Super Six berths with Plocki as head coach. Despite losing half their roster from last season, Michigan returns over two thirds (17 of 24) of their routines from last year. The Wolverines are led by five-time Big Ten champion Senior Nicole Artz. They also feature junior Paige Zaziski, who transferred to Michigan from Arkansas. At Arkansas, she was the 2015 co-SEC Freshman of the Year and a two-time All-SEC selection.