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Utah Gymnastics Heads To Fort Worth For NCAA Championships

Apr 12, 2021

MEET WEEK
The University of Utah gymnastics team is set for the 2021 NCAA Championships, competing in the second semifinal this Friday, Apr. 16 in Fort Worth, Texas at 4 p.m. MT/5 p.m. CT. No. 6-seeded Utah will compete against second-seeded Oklahoma, No. 3 seed LSU and No. 7 seed Alabama in its semifinal. The meet at Dickies Arena will be televised live on ESPN2 with Bart Conner and Kathy Johnson Clarke serving as the talent.
 
The first semifinal of the NCAA Championships features top-seeded Florida, along with No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 California and No. 8 Minnesota. The four teams will compete at 11 a.m. MT/12 p.m. CT on ESPN2 prior to Utah's session. The top-two teams from each semifinal will advance to the NCAA Championship finals on Saturday, Apr. 17, competing at 1:30 p.m. MT and televised live on ABC.
 
QUICK HITS
• Utah posted the third-best score of the NCAA Regional Finals to qualify for its 45th-consecutive national championship.
• Utah is only school to qualify for all 39 NCAA Gymnastics Championships and is making a record 45th consecutive trip to nationals dating back to the 1976 AIAW Championship.
• The Utes have won nine NCAA Championships and 10 total national titles (1981 AIAW). Utah has finished as the NCAA runner-up eight times—most recently in 2015.
• Utah drew the same rotation order as it did in the NCAA Regional Second Round on Apr. 2; beam, floor, bars, and vault.
• Utah is 1-1 this season against the teams in the semifinal. Utah lost to Oklahoma in the second meet of the season and picked up the win over LSU in the Regional Final on Apr. 3. This will be the first meeting for Utah and Alabama since the 2017 NCAA Championships.
 
CHALK TALK
• The Red Rocks recorded a season-high 197.925 to win the Salt Lake City NCAA Regional. The 197.925 is the highest score in Utah history at an NCAA Regional, breaking the previous record of a 197.675 set in 2009.
• Sydney Soloski has recorded 11-consecutive scores of 9.90 or better on floor, reaching the mark in all but the season opener.
• Maile O'Keefe has posted four 9.95s in a row on beam, scored a 9.90 or better in 11-of-12 meets on beam, and has not gone below a 9.875 this season on the apparatus.
• Abby Paulson has scored six-straight 9.90-plus scores on beam and has hit the mark in 9-of-12 competitions. Cristal Isa has also posted six-consecutive 9.90 or better marks on beam for Utah.
• Utah has hit 272-288 routines this season. Gymnasts who have hit every routine are O'Keefe (46-46) and Soloski (12-12).
• Individual event winners this season are O'Keefe (27), Soloski (6), Isa (6), Alexia Burch (5), Paulson (4), Jaedyn Rucker (3), Cammy Hall (2) and Lucy Stanhope (1).
 
AWARD SEASON
Following the completion of the regular season, Utah gymnasts rolled in individual honors for season-long efforts. Maile O'Keefe earned first team All-American honors on beam and in the all-around, while earning second-team honors on the uneven bars to lead the Utes. She also earned first team All-Pac-12 honors on all three events. Cristal Isa picked up second-team All-American honors on beam, while she earned first team All-Pac-12 honors on beam and on bars. She was also All-Pac-12 honorable mention in the all-around.
 
Sydney Soloski and Abby Paulson earned All-American honors and first team All-Pac-12 honors on floor and beam, respectively, for the second-straight year. Rounding out this year's regular season All-Americans was Alexia Burch, who received second-team honors on vault, as well as earning first team all-conference honors on vault. Additionally, Cammy Hall and Jaedyn Rucker landed spots to the All-Pac-12 vault honorable mention team.

REGIONAL RECAP
Utah dominated its NCAA Regional Second Round, topping the second-place finishers by nearly a full point after scoring a 197.500 to advance to the regional final. Maile O'Keefe won the regional beam title with a 9.95, while finishing as the runner up in the all-around with a score of 39.575. The Red Rocks then exploded for a season-high 197.925 to win the regional final and earn a berth to this year's NCAA Championships. Utah outlasted LSU (197.750), Arizona State (197.600) and Kentucky (197.600) to advance after phenomenal performances across the board. Utah started the night with a season-high 49.475 on bars after receiving five-of-six sticks from the lineup. The Utes carried the momentum through beam and floor, and had just enough to hang on for the win on vault. O'Keefe finished tied for first place on bars, beam and floor to highlight the night, and was the runner-up in the all-around with a 39.700. Sydney  Soloski finished tied for first on floor, while Abby Paulson and Cristal Isa also tied for first on beam with O'Keefe.
 
CHAMPIONSHIP COUNTER
Utah earned its second Pac-12 Regular Season Championship and finished the conference season unbeaten for the second time in two years. Last season, Utah's run was battle tested as the team faced the top half of the conference on the road, which included meet-winning beam performances at UCLA, Cal and Washington. This year, Utah has retained their dominance in the regular season and has come out on top in every Pac-12 dual meet once again. The Utes have not lost a conference meet since Feb. 23, 2019. Backing up the regular season performance, Utah came out of the Pac-12 Championships in first place for the first title since 2017, fourth Pac-12 Championship and now sixth overall conference title. Utah posted a season-high 197.725 to win the meet and be the 2021 undisputed Pac-12 champions.