It was a big week for Utah gymnastics. After clinching the regular season PAC-12 championship, the Red Rocks announced senior stars Alexia Burch and Sydney Soloski would return in 2022 by way of an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to all student athletes who competed during the COVID 19 pandemic and suffered abbreviated seasons during their collegiate career. The good times kept rolling Friday night with a big win over in-state foe, Utah State in the final match of the regular season.
Junior Cristal Isa’s Yurchenko full opened up the evening with a near flawless trip on the vault, earning a 9.825, just before junior Cammy Hall took a scary fall in the second spot. With a trio of 10.000 possible scores on deck to finish the event, freshman Lucy Stanhope earned a career high 9.900, a score matched by senior anchor Alexia Burch, while sophomore Jaedyn Rucker hit just shy with a 9.875 after a poor dismount that included a hair raising buckled knee, helping the Red Rocks secure a 49.325 in the first rotation.
As Utah moved to bars, stuck landings became problematic until senior Emilie LeBlanc became the first gymnast with a stuck landing in the fourth spot, which helped to earn her a season-high 9.875 before sophomore Maile O’Keefe took the top spot with a 9.900.
Unsurprisingly, Utah dominated on the beam, with both Isa and sophomore Abby Paulson earning 9.900 marks before O’Keefe clinched a team-high 9.950, securing a 49.450 in the third rotation.
After the strong performance on the beam, the Red Rocks appeared gassed with junior Adrienne Randall’s subpar floor routine earning a 9.650 before Isa hit the mat and failed to nail her aerial pass, taking a tumble that docked her score down to a 9.200. Paulson was rock solid in the third position, earning a hard fought 9.850 to help get the Utah squad back on track with just a few minor hops in her routine. Stanhope and Rucker’s strong night continued on the floor, both earning an effortless 9.900, helping to salvage Utah’s final rotation. Senior Sydney Soloski’s anchor performance was near perfect, with minor faults noticeable in her aerial pass, securing a team-leading 9.950 to close out the evening, hitting a 197.275, a miracle considering the poor start on the floor, besting the Aggies by .775.
With the regular season now complete, Utah will compete in the PAC-12 championships in their home away from home when the conference takes over the Maverik Center on Saturday March 20th.