Before the start of the season, the cards seemed stacked against the Red Rocks. Not only was the team going into their first ever season without a member of the Marsen family at the helm, but the team lost a significant amount of veteran talent and had a schedule that forced the team into several back-to-back road meets. Now, with the season winding down, Utah has so far remained unbeaten under Tom Farden’s first season as the program’s lone head coach, and the road hasn’t been a problem clinching comfortable wins over Cal, Oregon State and a nail-biter last week against fierce rival, UCLA. Now, with their final road game of the season against the #13 Washington Huskies, the PAC-12’s last remaining undefeated teams squared off in Seattle as Farden chases his 100th career victory with the program.
The afternoon started off well, with the Red Rocks taking a 49.300-49.050 lead after the first rotation, thanks to a 9.925 from Missy Reinstadtler, who had the only stuck landing for Utah, despite the team demonstrating their overall effectiveness throughout their routines.
As the second rotation concluded, Utah’s lead started to slip holding a 98.525-98.475 advantage due to a high-scoring turn on the bars for the Huskies that featured three gymnasts scoring 9.900’s, with Utah answering with a team-high 9.925 from anchor Kim Tessen on the vault.
Moving to the floor in the third rotation, things took a dramatic turn early. Despite a solid start from Abby Paulson, scoring a 9.850, Jillian Hoffman’s first tumbling pass ended with a slip as her chest was nearly parallel to the ground on her landing, resulting in a 9.100, forcing the Red Rocks to finish the event without a misstep. Following Adrienne Randall’s 9.875, Maile O’Keefe kept the momentum going, with a 9.900 before Sidney Soloski and Missy Reinstadtler clinched highs of 9.950 and 9.950 respectively, allowing Hoffman’s score to be dropped, however Washington’s Eavanni Roberson came in clutch, scoring the evenings only perfect 10.000, her second consecutive such score on the beam, giving Washington a 148.075-148.125 lead before moving to their best event on the floor.
Ultimately, a trio of 9.950’s from Cristal Isa, Paulson and Randall, along with a 9.000 from O’Keefe proved to be too much from Washington to handle, despite scoring a 49.475 on the floor, giving Utah a 197.675-197.600 final score, allowing Utah’s undefeated season to continue for at least one more week.
Utah returns to the Huntsman Center on March 6th to face Stanford before closing out the regular season one week later, facing Utah State on March 13th.