Utah Gymnasts Roll Through Red Rocks Preview
SALT LAKE CITY – After months of training, the Utah gymnastics team saw action in the Jon M. Huntsman Center for the first time this season on Wednesday afternoon, taking part in the annual Red Rocks Preview. Although there were many differences to this year's version of the preview, especially the absence of thousands of Utah fans packing the arena, the Utes managed to maintain their competitive edge and came out firing on all events.
"This year we want to start where we left off or close to it instead of having to rebuild all of that momentum because we don't really know what kind of season we are going to get," said senior Alexia Burch on the team's momentum. "After today, I would say we are really close to catching up with where we were last year."
Following his senior captain's comments, reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year Tom Farden added, "It's a process and we felt that the team made another positive stride forward. There were some mistakes, but I thought we made a positive stride as a group based on our last intrasquad over Thanksgiving."
Farden continued, "We really liked that we are going to be able to narrow down some lineup decisions on events that we competed several of the athletes on the depth chart, minus vault. We feel now it is a good jumping off point to making some solid decisions after seeing them perform in the arena, in a different environment and with judges."
The Red Rocks Preview did not have fans and was not live streamed. The Utah gymnastics program has sent an exclusive video of the preview in its entirety for the season ticket holders as a thank you for all their years of continued support and loyalty.
The depth of the team was on display at this year's preview as Utah had Burch, Cristal Isa, Adrienne Randall, and Lucy Stanhope show routines on every event. Isa was the sole true all-arounder making the top-six lineup across the board. Utah was eight-deep on bars and beam, while having 10 gymnasts compete on floor. Vault showed six athletes, but will have three additional routines available deeper into the training schedule.
Utah's vault rotation started the meet on a high and was highlighted by Burch's beautifully stuck Yurchenko 1.5. Cammy Hall competed her 1.5 just after Burch, while the rest of the lineup sent Yurchenko fulls out on the mat today. Randall competed on vault for the first time of her college career, while Jaedyn Rucker and Stanhope made their Ute debuts in the non-scoring competition.
The Red Rocks moved to bars after a strong opening vault set and picked up momentum quickly. The Utes stuck 5-of-7 dismounts on bars, beginning when Maile O'Keefe nailed her Double Arabian dismount in the leadoff position. Stanhope entered the lineup as the second gymnast and next up was Burch, who has not competed a bar routine in her career and has not done an exhibition since her sophomore season. Burch put together an entirely new set from previous years and wrapped it up with a stuck dismount of her own.
Alani Sabado stepped into the lineup to see her only action of the day and was followed by a pair of back-to-back stuck double layouts from Emilie LeBlanc and Isa. Randall and Rucker also went through bar routines as No. 7 and No. 8 to close out the rotation.
The school-record beam team looked like they had not missed a beat from where they left off in 2020, as last year's season-long lineup hit every routine today with ease. Burch led the group off, while LeBlanc, Randall, O'Keefe, Isa and Abby Paulson completed the six-gymnast lineup. Sydney Soloski and Stanhope went seventh and eighth to wrap up beam.
Closing out the day's work, floor showed the most routines of any event. Paulson opened the lineup and was followed by juniors Isa and Randall. Stanhope filled in the fourth position, O'Keefe competed fifth, and Soloski finished off the set. Burch, Jaylene Gilstrap, Rucker and Hall rounded out the competitors on floor.
Utah gymnastics will continue training for the 2021 season with the season's schedule yet to be determined. For updates regarding schedule announcements and other news, visit UtahUtes.com and follow @Utahgymnastics on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Once a schedule has been released, season ticket holders will receive information regarding the opt-in or opt-out process.