A new era of Utah athletics begins this Friday when, for the first time in the program’s 44-year history, the fifth Red Rocks take the floor without a Marsden at the helm. Hired in 1976, Greg Marsden compiled a 1048-208-8 record until is retirement in 2015, when he handed the reins over wife, Megan, who had been a co-head coach since 2009 and a member of the coaching staff since 1985 after competing as a member of the Red Rocks herself, and now sole head coach, Tom Farden.
Farden, who has been on the coaching staff since 2010, isn’t the only member of the coaching staff settling into a new role. Assistant coach Robert Ladanyi departed for Nebraska, while choreographer BJ Das opted for UCLA at the end of the 2019 season, leaving big vacancies. They have been replaced by husband and wife duo, Farrett and Courtney Griffeth, while Carly Dockendorf has been promoted from director of recruiting and player development to assistant coach. Couple a deluge of coaching changes with some major losses on the roster in Kari Lee, MaKenna Merrell-Giles and MyKyla Skinner, and it’s clear that 2020 marks a major turning point for a program known for its consistency and stability.
With the inevitable losses throughout the roster, a handful of veterans in Missy Reinstadtler, Kim Tessen and Sydney Soloski are primed to lead the team, which includes a four fresh faces; Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Jilian Hoffman and JaedynRucker.
Despite decades of consistency, the Red Rocks have not won a national championship since 1995 and have failed to finish better than fifth since their second place finish in 2015, and with #12 Kentucky coming into the Huntsman Center on Friday night, fans will have a chance to see if Utah can still keep pace with some of the nation’s best.
The Wildcats finished the 2019 season with a program best 9th place ranking, and returns 13 athletes from last season’s squad, including senior, Mollie Korth, who claimed eight first-place finishes on the vault last season, on her way to being named to the All-SEC roster at the end of her junior year. To match her prowess on the vault, Korth also notched four first-place finishes on the floor and all-around, three top finishes on the bars, and tied for a highest bars score in program history, notching a 9.950.
Utah’s season officially begins at 7:00 PM MT on Friday, January 3rd at the Huntsman Center, with television coverage provided by the PAC-12 Network. A limited number of tickets are still available though UtahTickets.com.