The Senior Night with the Stars lived up to the billing with senior Baely Rowe posting a career-high score in the all-around (39.650) in her final meet in the Huntsman Center and helped the No. 5 Utah Red Rocks (10-1, 5-1 Pac-12) defeat Stanford (6-8, 3-4 Pac-12). Freshman phenom MyKayla Skinner tied Rowe for the win in the all-around. The meet was emotional for the team. Rowe was given a special introduction and walked out with her parents.
For the four year in a row and seventh year overall, Utah has had the highest women’s sports attendance. Their season average of 15,224 fans set a record for gymnastics, breaking the record Utah set in the 2015 season.
Rowe opened the meet with a career high on vault with a 9.900. It was clear at that moment it was going to be a special night for her according to co-head coach Tom Farden. Utah was also buoyed on vault by Skinner’s 9.950 to remain undefeated on vault this season and sophomore Shannon McNatt’s 9.875 in only her second vault to count. After one rotation, Utah led Stanford 49.425-49.125.
Utah next moved to bars where Rowe and Skinner both shined again with a 9.900 and 9.950 respectively for the second consecutive event. Utah would post a 49.300 on bars, and Skinner would tie Stanford’s Elizabeth Price for the win on the event. Stanford scored a 49.125 on vault.
Things got weird on balance beam for Utah. Junior Maddy Stover got the Red Rocks off to a good start with a 9.825. Sophomore MaKenna Merrell however fell in the second spot. Her fall seemed to shake the other gymnasts. Skinner had an amazing save to prevent a fall then proceeded to improvise a little dance move to cover it. The Red Rocks would survive beam and post a 49.100. Rowe would post a 9.875 which was good for the win on beam. She got emotional during her moonwalk and was in tears as she finished her routine.
"Kari (Lee) and MyKayla added a little spice to beam," said Farden. "I cracked up the way MyKayla covered for her wobble. You can tell she's a gym rat to be able to improvise like that."
Utah finished the meet with a bang on floor. Utah scored a 49.675 on floor thanks to a 9.925 from Missy Reinstadtler, a 9.975 from Rowe, and a 10.0 from Skinner. Skinner went fifth on the event and finally got that elusive 10.0 she has been chasing all season. Rowe closed out her Huntsman Center career with a career-high on floor and tied Skinner for the top spot in the all-around. The crowd went nuts for both Skinner and Rowe.
"MyKayla has been waiting for that 10.0 all season," said Farden. "She has a chip on her shoulder that I think she will have her whole career and she knocked it out of the park tonight."
"Once MyKayla hit that 10.0, I had nothing to lose," said Rowe. "I went out on the floor thinking, 'I want to be just as good as her and I want to play for the crowd a bit.'"
"I've been waiting to do college gymnastics forever and Baely's last night here made me so sad," an emotion Skinner said. "Bae definitely deserved it (tying Skinner for all-around honors) and I am so proud of her."
It was a great way to close out Utah’s last home meet of the 2017 season and to end Rowe’s excellent Utah career.
"We had a bookend meet. We were exceptional on vault and floor, but were either pressing too much or holding back on the intricate events (bars and beam). The thing I was most proud of was how we fought the whole way through."
Utah closes out the 2017 regular season with a meet at No. 8 Georgia on Saturday, March 11.