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Red Rocks Fall Short, Place Third at Nationals

Despite posting a season-high 197.9875, the University of Utah Red Rocks were unable to clinch the national title, falling a mere .262 shy of first place Michigan, a first-time NCAA champion, and .088 short of second-place Oklahoma.

Posting a 49.4250 on the bars in the first rotation, Utah started the afternoon strong before making their biggest statement on the beam.

Led by sophomore and solo national champion Maile O’Keefe, Utah was near perfect on the beam with an impressive 49.7000. O’Keefe’s 9.9875 was the highest score of the meet, while juniors Adrienne Randall and Cristal Isa matched sophomore Abby Paulson’s 9.9375. In total, all five of the Red Rocks’ counted scores came in no lower than 9.9000.

After notching a 49.4750 on the floor, the only thing that stood in Utah’s way was a solid performance on the vault, an apparatus that has been problematic for Tom Farden’s 2021 squad. Trailing first-place Michigan 148.7625 to 148.6000, an upset victory was within reach, even after junior Cammy Hall posted a 9.800 to open the final rotation. Unfortunately, freshman Lucy Stanhope over-rotated her Yurchenko double full and could not firmly stick the landing, scoring a matching 9.800, forcing Utah to count one of those disappointing scores in the final tally, ultimately costing the Red Rocks a legitimate shot at the national title.

With seniors Sydney Soloski and Alexia Burch opting to return for a bonus senior season in 2022 and the potential for fan-favorite and Olympic hopeful MyKayla Skinner Harmer to return to the squad for one final season, Utah gymnastics looks to be primed to continue their streak of 45 straight appearances in the NCAA national championship, with a legitimate shot at a title, a feat that has alluded the most decorated program in the sport’s history since 1995.