2018 Pac-12 gymnastics season kicks off this weekend

SAN FRANCISCO-- The 2018 gymnastics season kicks off with home meets for five Pac-12 squads, beginning on Friday, Jan. 5 as No. 5 UTAH hosts the annual Deseret Dual Rivalry against BYU in the Huntsman Center.

On Saturday, Jan. 6, ASU hosts No. 14 Auburn, No. 20 Iowa, and Iowa State, and No. 6 UCLA matches up against No. 22 Ohio State at home in this week’s “Game of the Week” on Pac-12 Networks. Meanwhile, ARIZONA opens their season at home against No 8. Denver, which had originally been scheduled as a quad meet. Due to storms on the East Coast, Rutgers and New Hampshire are unable to travel.

No. 18 STANFORD hosts this year’s NorCal Classic on Monday, Jan. 8 against Bay Area teams No. 11 CALIFORNIA, UC Davis, Sacramento State, and San Jose State, rounding out the first week of regular-season Pac-12 gymnastics.

Pac-12 Networks debuts both Utah and UCLA’s season-opening meets this weekend, broadcast live on Pac-12 Network as well as their respective regional channels. This season Pac-12 Networks is set to televise 25 women’s gymnastics meets, including the 2018 Conference championships.

Six of the seven Pac-12 teams who made NCAA appearances in 2017 are currently ranked in the top 25 of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women (NACGC/W) national preseason poll. Utah, UCLA, California, Oregon State, Washington and Stanford are ranked No. 5, 6, 11, 12, 15, and 18 respectively. The Wildcats, who also made an appearance in the NCAA postseason in 2017 are ranked No. 26, and the Sun Devils round out the conference at No. 31.

UCLA was voted the preseason favorite to win the 2018 Pac-12 title for the second-consecutive year. UCLA received 47 points and five first-place votes in the Pac-12 coaches’ poll, edging Utah in the polling by three points. The Utes received the three remaining first-place votes. Both teams have battled for the Conference crown the last few years, the Utes winning the league crown last year for the third time in four years. UCLA won in 2016. California finished third in the poll with 30 points, just ahead of Washington, which collected 28 points. Tied for fifth with 27 points were Stanford and Oregon State. Arizona and Arizona State rounded out the poll in seventh and eighth place, respectively, with 12 and nine points.

This year’s Pac-12 squads are home to several returning Olympic-level talent. UCLA sophomore and member of the 2016 USA Olympic Team, Madison Kocian was the only Bruin to capture an event title in all four events and the all-around during the regular season and earned All-American status in the all-around. Kocian’s teammate Kyla Ross was a gold medalist on the USA's 2012 team, also making history last season by becoming the first female gymnast ever to win an Olympic, World and NCAA crown with her NCAA beam and co-bars titles. Utah sophomore MyKayla Skinner, who served as the alternate on the 2016 USA Olympic Team team, is an eight-time All-American, three-time Pac-12 Champion and three-time NCAA regional champion. She helped the Utes claim the 2017 Pac-12 Championship for the third time in the last four years. California junior Toni-Ann Williams became the first gymnast to compete in the Olympics for Jamaica, representing her home country at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Williams missed nearly all of the 2017 season after tearing her Achilles in February, but is expected to return to competition with the Golden Bears at the annual season-opening NorCal Classic.

Coaching changes this season: Tabitha Yim returns to Stanford as head coach after serving as an assistant for the Cardinal in 2010-15. She previously served as head coach of the Arizona program the last two seasons. John Court was named interim head coach for the Wildcats. 

Last season Utah became the first school in the country to top 9,000 season tickets in the sport of gymnastics with more than 9,200 sold. The ticket count breaks Utah’s previous record of 8,763 set last year when the Utes averaged an NCAA gymnastics-record 15,224 fans at their home meets. The Utes’ season opener “Red Out” fan event is expecting large crowds. Additionally, for the first time in school history, Utah's home meets, as well as all postseason meets, will be broadcast live on the school's flagship radio station ESPN 700.


UPCOMING SCHEDULE 
Friday, Jan. 5
TV/Stream
Time
Brigham Young at No. 5 UTAH
P12N, P12MT
6 p.m. PT
Saturday, Jan. 6
 
 
No. 8 Denver at ARIZONA
Live stream
3 p.m. PT
No. 14 Auburn, No. 20 Iowa, Iowa State at ASU
Live stream
3 p.m. PT
No. 22 Ohio State at No. 6 UCLA
P12N, P12LA
6 p.m. PT
Monday, Jan. 8
 
 
NorCal Classic: CALIFORNIA, UC Davis, Sacramento State, and San Jose State at No. STANFORD
Live stream
6 p.m. PT

 
IN THE PRESEASON

 
GYMNASTICS ON PAC-12 NETWORKS
Pac-12 Networks, now in its sixth season of unprecedented coverage of Pac-12 sports, will air 25 women’s gymnastics meets this season, including a “Meet the Bruins” preview. All eight Pac-12 schools will appear on the Networks at least three times: Arizona (3), Arizona State (4), California (5), Oregon State (7), Stanford (4), UCLA (7), Utah (7) and Washington (4). Both sessions of the 2018 Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Championships will be televised live nationally on Pac-12 Network on Saturday, Mar. 24 at McKale Memorial Center in Tucson, Arizona.
 
PAC-12 NETWORKS MEET OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY OPUS BANK 
Saturday, Jan. 6 - Ohio State at UCLA
Saturday, Jan. 20 - California at Washington 
Saturday, Jan. 27 - Stanford at Oregon State 
Saturday, Feb. 3 - Washington at Utah 
Saturday, Feb.10 - UCLA at California 
Sunday, Feb.18 – Utah at UCLA
Sunday, Feb. 25 – Utah at California
Sunday, Mar. 11 – UCLA at Stanford
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