Utah Red Rocks gymnastics took on the University of Arizona in an early afternoon battle on Saturday, clinching a 197.300 to 185.975 victory, their fourth of the season.
Kicking off the meet on bars, Maile O’Keefe, Emilie LeBlanc and Hunter Dula all notched 9.800’s, however it was Cristal Isa and Kim Tessen who impressed the most, both demonstrating stellar handstands, and solid dismounts, earning scores of 9.925 and 9.900 respectively.
In their second rotation, the team as a whole struggled with dismounts as they moved to the vault, with each gymnast committing noticeable step backs, the worst of which coming from Alexia Burch, whose 9.775 was dropped as the lowest score, allowing the Red Rocks to add 49.200 to their early lead. Sydney Soloski’s 9.875 was the event’s high score, .025 better than Arizona’s own Maddi Leydin.
Fresh off her season-high 9.900 run against Arizona State, Isa opened up the floor rotation with a 9.850, getting hit with a minor deduction for a slip in her final pass, hampering an otherwise great run. Soloski, at anchor, once again clinched an event-leading 9.950 with her high-energy performance, helping to give Utah a 147.875 heading into the final rotation.
On beam, the Red Rocks were able to seal their victory, thanks to well executed runs from Burch, whose buttery smooth back handspring was just one of many highlights from her 9.875 performance, and Utah’s lone all-arounder in O’Keefe, who posted a season-high 9.900. Ultimately, it was Abby Paulson’s 9.925 that clinched the event, and the victory for Utah.
The Red Rocks were victorious in four of the five events, including O’Keefe’s 39.325 in the all-around, as Arizona’s Christina Berg took the bars with a high of 9.950. The 197.300 is a season-high total for the young squad, who have improved their total scores each week since opening the season with a 196.425, and is the highest score for the program since last season’s PAC-12 Championship.
Up next for Utah is a trip to #10 Cal on February 8th, setting up a showdown between two of the conferences best, with Cal averaging a 196.388 on the season. Television coverage will be handled by the PAC-12 Networks starting at 1:30.