The fifth ranked Red Rocks officially open the 2019 season this Saturday in a late afternoon match up against an unranked Penn State squad that is helmed by a familiar face for the Utes.
Head coach Sarah Brown (previously Sarah Shire) was a member of the Red Rocks 2007 team as a freshman before transferring and finding success at Missouri for the remainder of her collegiate career. She brings with her a talented but underachieving squad that averaged 195.386 points per match last season. With head-to-head wins against Eastern Michigan and Michigan State as well as three first place finishes in multi-squad meets, Penn State is showing plenty of growth under Brown, but a seventh-place finish in the Big 10 Championship with a score of 194.900 doomed the Lions, eventually failing to move past the regional stage of the post-season, placing fifth with a score of 194.9.
While the Nittany Lions failed to impress as a squad, sophomore Lauren Bridgens is a proven commodity after an incredibly successful freshman year that saw her advance to the national championship on her own accord after posting a 9.850 on the uneven bars, a 9.700 on the beam, a 9.750 on the floor and an impressive 9.900 on the vault. The five-time Big 10 Freshman of the Week award winner has a chance to push Utah’s own MyKayla Skinner for all-around honors in their season debut.
The Utes, who have not lost a regular season home meet since 2012, will likely perform to another packed house as season ticket sales have surpassed 9,400 this season after leading all women’s sports in overall attendance last season for the eighth year straight. The first 15,000 fans in attendance this weekend will receive a free Salt Lake City Skyline car decal to correspond with a new team uniform that the Red Rocks will be debuting during the matchup.