Kicking off a three-week road stint, the Red Rocks travel to Provo Friday night to take on in-state rival BYU in their 100th all-time meeting; a series Utah currently leads 97-2.
The meet marks the start of the 2019 season for the Cougars, who finished last season ranked 17th nationally, their highest in 13 years. Continuing their recent success could be a struggle, as the team is littered with young talent. 14 freshmen in total make up the bulk of the 25-girl roster, most of whom are specialists in one or two events. One major exception is junior Shannon Evans, who competes in the all-around but flourishes on the bars, finishing seventh at Nationals last season, scoring a 9.900 in the event, just below her career high 9.950.
Despite their young talent, expectations are high for the Cougars. Starting the season ranked 24th nationally, their delayed start has left them ineligible for a ranking prior to their matchup with Utah, but with several teams in the top 25 posting sub 195.00 scores, finding their way back into the rankings should be no issue considering the Cougars a 196.030 last season. Shockingly enough, if BYU can manage to meet their season average, a top 10 ranking is possible, as only six teams (Oklahoma, UCLA, Utah, LSU, Georgia and Michigan) mustered a 196.050 or better after the first week of competition.
While BYU’s profile may be on the rise, Utah’s dominance is likely to continue. After posting a 197.175 against Penn State in their first meet of the season, the Red Rocks climbed two spots in the national rankings, now sitting at 3rd thanks to PAC-12 Gymnast of the Week, MyKyla Skinner, who earned a 9.950 on the bars, floor and vault. Freshman Cristal Isa’s debut also caught the attention of the conference, claiming Freshman of the Week honors, after pulling a 9.925 on the bars and a 9.825 on the vault in her debut with the Red Rocks.
Fans who are interested in catching the meet live can still grab tickets for as little as $6. Otherwise the meet will be broadcast live on BYUTV starting at 7:00 PM MT.