Trio of Red Rocks Recognized As Pac-12 Weekly Award Winners
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah gymnastics team continued its impressive performances this past week against Arizona State and three gymnasts were recognized by the Pac-12 Conference for their efforts. Maile O'Keefe earned her third Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week honor in four weeks, while Alexia Burch was named the conference's Specialist of the Week and Jaedyn Rucker earned her second Coaches' Choice award of the season.
O'Keefe continued her hot streak and recorded her second-straight 39.525 in the all-around in No. 3 Utah's win over No. 16 Arizona State to remain undefeated in Pac-12 play. O'Keefe posted career highs on vault and floor, both of which went on to be season-high event scores for Utah. The sophomore from Las Vegas posted a career-high 9.925 on floor to win a share of the event title. She posted a career-high 9.90 on vault to finish tied for second overall, and also finished second on beam with a 9.875.
O'Keefe won her third all-around title and second floor victory of the season to bring her total to a team-high 10 wins after earning at least two titles every meet. She ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 on beam and in the all-around, and is No. 2 nationally on beam and No. 7 in the all-around.
A senior from Sparks, Nev., Burch picked up her first career Specialist of the Week honor following a career-high 9.975 on vault against the Sun Devils. Burch exploded off the table and earned a 10.0 from one judge on her way to collecting her third-straight vault title. Burch's 9.975 pushed Utah to the second-highest vault score in the country this year (49.475). The best vault score in the Pac-12 Conference this season, Burch's Yurchenko 1.5 came in scored as one of two 9.975s in the NCAA on vault and sits behind just one 10.0.
Burch led off the beam team once again and scored a 9.85 that finished as the meet's third-best score. On bars, she stepped up after a fall from the Ute ahead of her and hit her routine to get the lineup back on track with a 9.825.
Rucker collected her second Coaches' Choice award of the 2021 season following a career day in her homecoming meet against Arizona State. The Mesa, Ariz. native posted a career-high 9.90 on floor and tied her career mark of 9.875 on vault in her return to the desert. Both of Rucker's scores contributed to season highs on floor and vault for the Red Rocks.
Utah has had three Gymnast of the Week honors (O'Keefe – Jan. 18, Feb. 2, Feb. 9), three Specialist of the Week honors (Sydney Soloski – Jan. 18; Abby Paulson – Feb. 2; Burch – Feb. 9), and three Coaches' Choice awards (Rucker – Jan. 18, Feb. 9; Burch – Feb. 2) in four weeks.
The trio of Red Rocks and the entire Utah gymnastics team will have a bye week until returning to competition next Friday, Feb. 19 against No. 10 UCLA. The Utes and Bruins will meet at 7 p.m. MT on ESPNU.