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No. 4 Utah Red Rocks Advance to Super Six

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MyKayla Skinner on Floor at NCAA Championship
Deena Lofgren

The No. 4 Utah Red Rocks got it done at the Semifinal I at the NCAA Championship with a 197.0500, which was good enough for the Red Rocks to advance to the Super Six tomorrow. Oklahoma (197.725) and UCLA (197.500) will join the Red Rocks. Freshman MyKayla Skinner won the all-around (39.6125), floor (9.9625), and tied for first on vault (9.9000).

Things did not get off to a great start for the Red Rocks on vault, one of their strongest events. The team only posted a 49.0875, led by Skinner’s 9.9000. The Red Rocks seemed to let the nerves get to them at times, with three gymnasts scoring below a 9.8000 on the event. Utah would go onto a bye for the second rotation.

In the third rotation, Utah moved to the bars, where they would again score a 49.0875. Skinner and Baely Rowe would lead the Red Rocks with 9.8375s each. Kari Lee had a great routine going until she stumbled on her landing, the hurt ankle likely contributing. This would put Utah in fifth, ahead of only Oregon State. Utah sat at 98.175. UCLA led the meet at the halfway mark with a 98.7250. Oklahoma was in second with a 98.7000. Denver and Washington were tied for third with a 98.2250, and Oregon State was in sixth with a 98.0875.

“We were a little tight on vault and bars,” Utah co-head coach Tom Farden said. “I told the team after bars that we had 12 routines down and 12 still to go and to just relax and trust themselves.”

The meet would turn for the better for the Red Rocks on balance beam. A 49.3875 would put Utah in first place through four rotations (with Oklahoma and UCLA on bye). Skinner would lead the Red Rocks on the event with a 9.9125. Sophomore MaKenna Merrell would post a career-high 9.9000 on the event. The event the doomed the Red Rocks last year was the one that put them in great shape to advance to the Super Six this year. Utah was on bye for the fifth rotation with a 147.5625.

Heading into the sixth and final rotation, Utah took to the floor. The highest score in the books was Washington with a 196.5625. Utah also led Denver for the third spot by 0.3875. Utah would cap the night on their best event with their best score of the night, a 49.4875, again led by Skinner, who won the meet with a 9.9625. Rowe (9.9250) and Merrell (9.9000) would also top 9.9000 for the Red Rocks. Denver would finish with a 49.3000 on bars, allowing the Red Rocks to easily qualify for the Super Six for the 20th time in program history.

“MyKayla Skinner competes with such confidence that it carries over to the rest of the team,” said Farden. “Credit needs to go as well to our co-captains Maddy Stover and Baely Rowe, who talked like leaders coming into the meet and then showed it tonight on the floor.”