Utah Gymnastics Announces 2021 Team Awards
SALT LAKE CITY – The 2021 Utah gymnastics program announced this year's team awards following the incredible season, which ended with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships a week ago.
The team awards are given out annually and chosen by the coaching staff. The four awards given are the Team MVP, Most Improved Gymnast, Dahl Academic-Athletic Award and Marsden's Leadership Award.
This year's Team MVP was awarded to Maile O'Keefe after her breakout sophomore season. O'Keefe was the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year, Salt Lake City NCAA Regional beam champion, and a two-time national champion. She became just the fifth Ute gymnast in history to win two national titles on the same night after she earned a share of the uneven bars and floor titles at the NCAA Championships.
Earning the Most Improved Gymnast honor was Jaedyn Rucker. Rucker overcame two knee surgeries on the same knee to be a vital piece in the vault and floor lineups all season. Her hard work and determination paid off as she recorded the highest vault score at the NCAA Championships with a 9.9875 in the finals, along with becoming a Pac-12 Champion on floor.
Abby Paulson was selected as the Dahl Academic-Athletic award honoree after she excelled both in competition and in the classroom. Paulson is majoring in Health & Kinesiology and has a cumulative GPA of a 4.0 through the fall of 2020.
Lastly, the Marsden's Leadership Award winners were this year's three team captains – Sydney Soloski, Emilie LeBlanc and Alexia Burch. All three Red Rocks led in their own unique ways, but were a perfect combination to lead the team in this year of uncertainty. The three captains played crucial roles in the team's success and set examples for all of their teammates time and time again.