As many people around the country look forward to a relaxing three-day weekend, the Red Rocks are gearing up for their busiest weekend of the season; first heading to St. Charles, Missouri to compete against LSU, Missouri and Stanford in the GymQuarters Mardi Gras Invitational on Friday night, before heading back out to PAC-12 country to once again take on Stanford in a Monday afternoon matchup on the road.
Friday’s meet will pit the Utes against their toughest competition of the season with the LSU Tigers ranked just behind Utah at 5th nationally. Despite currently ranking 7th on the bars, the Tigers have been nothing short of impressive thus far in the event, scoring no lower than 49.325 until notching an uncharacteristically low 48.575 last week against Kentucky due to falls from senior Lexie Priessman and freshman Bailey Ferrer.
LSU has seen similar success on the beam, meaning two of their best events just happen to be two of Utah’s weakest points in 2019. Ranking 4th on the event, with an average of 49.308 this season, the Tigers are performing substantially better than Utah’s 49.129 average. Much of that success can be accredited to senior Sarah Finnegan, who has yet to score lower than a 9.825 through the team’s first six meets and maintaining a 9.904 average. If Utah hopes to topple the Tigers, it’s likely they will need their best performance of the season.
Rounding out the SEC half of the Mardi Gras event is the 15th ranked Missouri Tigers. Averaging a 195.754, these Tigers aren’t quite as ferocious as LSU, but still have some potential to rock the Utes.
Mizzou has been a victim of inconsistency in 2019, scoring as high as 196.450 and as low as 194.975. The same cannot be said for junior star, Aspen Tucker. Throughout 2019, Tucker has become a bastion for consistently high scores, primarily on the floor, where her low of 8.850 and high of 9.925 showcase just how rock-solid she has been for the Tigers.
While LSU and (to a lesser extent) Mizzou provide an intriguing level of competition for the Red Rocks, Stanford has failed to impress this season, being the only PAC-12 gymnastics program to rank outside of the top 25. In fact, outside of their debut meet against Sacramento State and Seattle Pacific, the Cardinal have lost every meet by a wide margin, including a 197.225-195.125 drubbing against UCLA. Considering the fast turn-around between the two meets, Utah might have a hard time keeping their streak of consecutive 197.000+ score alive, however they should have no problem topping Stanford on the road, even with limited rest and cross-country travel.
Fans hoping to catch the action on the road this weekend will need a subscription to FloGymnastics.com ($29.99 for a monthly subscription with a deep discount available to those who pay for a full year in advance), however Monday’s matchup against Stanford will be available on the PAC-12 Network, with coverage kicking off at 3:00 PM MT.