The No. 4 Utah Red Rocks will take the competition floor today at 11:00 a.m. MT in Semifinal I with No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Denver, No. 11 Washington and No. 12 Oregon State. The top three teams will advance to the Super Six tomorrow (which will be televised on ESPNU at 7:00 p.m. MT). The meet will be televised on ESPN2 and is taking place in St. Louis, Mo. There will also be live cameras for each event on WatchESPN. The Red Rocks drew the Olympic order of vault, bye, bars, beam, bye, and floor. Utah is the only school to qualify for all 36 NCAA Championships and has made a record 42 straight national championship meets.
While the Red Rocks have competed against all of these teams except Oklahoma so far this season, it is not a competitive advantage in gymnastics because there is no defense in the sport. In gymnastics, a team has no direct influence on the other teams in the meet. Utah can only control what they do in the meet.
This is a program that has sky high expectations. Missing the Super Six last year was a disappointment. Co-head coach Megan Marsden said that she has seen a competitiveness and drive since last year from the team to return to the Super Six this year. With a history of excellence dating back over 40 years, Utah gymnastics expects to make the Super Six year in and year out and compete for national championships.
Sophomore Kari Lee, who hurt her right ankle prior to the NCAA Regional meet, could be limited again to just bars. She focused on bars in practice this week. Marsden did not rule out Lee competing in more events, but it is likely a meet-time decision.
Baely Rowe is the lone senior on the team and will compete for the last time as a Red Rock (hopefully the last time being tomorrow in the Super Six!). Rowe ranks No. 5 in the nation in the all-around. She was named a regular-season All-American along with teammate MyKayla Skinner and is among five total All-Americans on the team. Rowe will go down as one of the best gymnasts in program history and could further cement her legacy with an excellent performance at nationals.
Both Rowe and Skinner could also compete to be NCAA individual event champions. Skinner is tied for No. 1 on floor and No. 2 on the all-around. Her 40 wins this season are third all-time, and her 11 wins in the all-around are tied for first with Ashley Postell, who also won the all-around 11 times in 2008. Utah’s last NCAA event champion was Georgia Dabritz on bars in 2015.