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Red Rocks to compete at Regionals Saturday

Deena Lofgren

It was a nice season for the Red Rocks, but losing the Pac-12 championship stings, without a doubt. Fortunately, they get to bounce back and go for big scores at Regionals Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center. Utah will be joined by Cal, BYU, Southern Utah, Auburn and Stanford for this meet. The top two teams will advance to Nationals that start on the 20th. Utah’s rotation order will be floor, vault, bye before bars, bars, beam, bye. It is the first time in seven years that Utah didn’t draw bars as its first competition event at regionals.

Placing in the top two isn’t too big of a concern for the Utes, but they do need to sharpen some things up if they want a chance at a national title in a few weeks, because toppling No. 1 Oklahama is going to be a tall task. They nailed the vault at the Pac-12s a few weeks ago, but the floor let them down and may have cost them a conference title. With that in mind, it may be good to start on the floor so they can flush any of those jitters out of their system, in what is traditionally one of their best events. The event that always concerns me is beam, which they wrap up on. Beam has been a solid even for the Utes this year, but it has been the achilles heel for Utah in the past. I feel like beam will be the difference maker for the Utes at Nationals, so if they can nail it, like they have vault and floor, they’ll be a threat to win it all.

Here are a few notes from the press release going into the meet:

Utah finished the regular season with a 15-4 overall record and a 5-1 regular-season conference mark … Utah led all women’s sports in regular season home attendance in 2018, averaging 15,139 fans a meet. It is the eighth all-women’s sports attendance title for Utah (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) and its sixth straight. Utah has won 34 gymnastics attendance crowns… Sophomore MyKayla Skinner is one of just three gymnasts to earn 2018 NACGC regular season All-America honors on all four events and the all-around (along with Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols and LSU’s Myia Hambrick) … Eighth-year Auburn head coach Jeff Graba was a Ute assistant from 2006-10. Former Utah All-American Corrie Lothrop (2011-15) is an Auburn graduate assistant coach.

The Utes have hit 255-of-264 routines, including 24-of-24 routines five times … Ute individual winners are MyKayla Skinner (30), MaKenna Merrell-Giles (14), Kari Lee (4), Tiffani Lewis (2), Kim Tessen (2) and Sydney Soloski (1) … Gymnasts who have hit every routine without a fall are: Skinner (42-42), Lewis (33-33), Maddy Stover (11-11), Shannon McNatt (2-2) and Lauren Wong (1-1) … Utah won five Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week citations in 2018: Skinner on Jan. 9, Jan. 16, Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 and Merrell-Giles on Feb. 6 … Utah has four 39.500 or better all-arounders: MyKaylaSkinner (39.725 season high twice), MaKenna Merrell-Giles (39.675 twice), Kari Lee (39.525) and Missy Reinstadtler(39.500) … Merrell-Giles has both 10.0 scores this year for the Utes, receiving a 10.0 on vault vs. Washington on Feb. 3 and on floor vs. Georgia on Mar. 16. Merrell-Giles, Tiffani Lewis and Skinner have all scored a 9.975 on floor—Skinner three times.