No. 4 Red Rocks Rout Huskies, Post Nation's Second-Best Score of the Season
SALT LAKE CITY – The No. 4-ranked Utah gymnastics team posted the second-highest score in the nation to this point on Saturday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center after tallying a 197.475 in the rout over Washington, which scored a 193.500. The Utes posted season highs on bars, beam and floor to move to 5-1 overall this season and 2-0 in Pac-12 play.
"This is an elite score and as of right now, it is the second highest score in the nation," said head coach Tom Farden on tonight's performance. "It was another big step for the team tonight and there were some big shining moments. It was similar to last weekend's efforts on the first two events and we are working on those areas. I do think that those events are not too far behind in terms of where floor and beam are at. If you look at our preseason and what we thought our strengths were, we are right there where we should be."
Utah started the night with two solid rotations before viewers nationwide on ESPN2 saw the Ute beam team put on an absolute show. Following a fall in the leadoff spot, Utah's next five beamers stepped up to produce the nation's second-highest beam score of the season – a 49.575 – to turn the momentum of the night.
Alexia Burch posted a season-high 9.90 as the second Red Rock up, and was followed by Adrienne Randall's 9.875 and Cristal Isa's 9.85. Itching for that perfect score on beam, O'Keefe had not gone below a 9.90 on beam all season and tonight was no different as she won her fourth beam title in four meets. O'Keefe executed a perfect routine to earn her first career 10.0 on any event in her young Ute career. Closing out the stellar finish to beam, Abby Paulson put on another stunner, earning a 10.0 from one judge but collecting a 9.95 for her final score.
Carrying momentum from her beam routine, Paulson kicked things off with a season high and career-tying 9.90 on floor to round out her night. Utah was solid throughout every floor routine that followed, collecting a 9.85 from Jaedyn Rucker, 9.825s from Lucy Stanhope and O'Keefe, and a 9.80 from Randall. O'Keefe locked in the all-around victory (39.525) over three Huskies with her 9.825 on floor.
With the meet well out of reach for Washington, Utah wasn't done yet as Sydney Soloski fired off a career-high 9.975 routine after another 10.0 was given by one of the judges to wrap up the night. Soloski won her third-straight floor title and ninth career floor victory. Utah scored a season-high 49.375 on floor.
Utah took the early lead over Washington after the vaulters gained a 49.225-48.100 lead. Isa posted a 9.775, while O'Keefe scored a 9.825 in the second spot. Stanhope and Cammy Hall dropped in Yurchenko 1.5s that produced back-to-back 9.85s, while Burch stuck her 1.5 to score a 9.925 and win her second-straight vault title.
Paulson led off the bars set with a season-high 9.85, but despite the strong start, Utah was forced to count a 9.775 after Alani Sabado and Burch both claimed the score. O'Keefe and LeBlanc picked the rotation back up after consecutive 9.875s. Isa pulled in the bars event title after she earned a season-high 9.925 as the anchor. The Utes posted a season-high 49.300 on bars to extend the lead at the halfway mark before beam and floor propelled Utah to the nation's second-best score of the 2021 season.
Utah gymnastics will have its first road Pac-12 meet next Saturday when the Utes travel to Tempe, Ariz. for a matchup with No. 15 Arizona State. The Utes and Sun Devils will meet at 1 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Networks.