No. 4 Utah gymnastics downs No. 3 Oklahoma with highest score all-time in a home opener
SALT LAKE CITY – No. 4 Utah Gymnastics posted the highest score all-time in a home opener Friday night as the Red Rocks downed No. 3 Oklahoma 197.775-196.650 inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Utah handed Oklahoma its first regular season loss since the 2018 season following 24-24 hit routines from the Utes that led to the highest score in the NCAA this season.
"One thing we talk about a lot is carrying a calm, but confident demeanor all the way through warmups and then all the way through the meet," said head coach Tom Farden. "It was really exciting to be back in the Huntsman with some fans and I feel like the athletes fed off the energy. We built on it throughout the whole night."
Farden continued, "We want to compete against the teams that have been knocking on the doors of national championships and Oklahoma is an incredible, well-coached team. You could see the talent and in the first couple of events - it was just a barnburner. What it means for our program is it is another step in the process in the 15 steps we have to take this season to get to where we want to go."
Utah began the top-four matchup with an excellent vault rotation, which was highlighted by Lucy Stanhope's career-high 9.925 in the third spot to lead the group. Grace McCallum and Cammy Hall added in a pair of 9.90s for the Utes, while Alexia Burch came in strong with a 9.875. Rounding out the scorers was Jaedyn Rucker with a 9.85, while Jillian Hoffman led off the group with a 9.80. Although putting up a 49.450, Oklahoma matched the set on bars and the meet was tied through the first rotation.
Amelie Morgan began the bars set once again and recorded a 9.825 before fellow freshman Sage Thompson posted a phenomenal routine that scored a 9.925. Thompson's debut in the Huntsman Center would go on to earn a share of the bars title for her first career victory. McCallum and O'Keefe posted 9.875s, while Cristal Isa added in a 9.85 to push the rotation to a 49.350. The teams continued to find themselves in a battle as Utah managed to pull slightly ahead 98.800-98.775 at the halfway point.
The Utah beam team blew away the crowd routine after routine and eventually gained some separation in the meet. The Utes recorded three 9.925s thanks to the performances of McCallum, Isa and O'Keefe, and added in a 9.90 from Abby Paulson to count four scores above the 9.90-mark. Adrienne Randall completed the scoring five with a 9.80 as the beam team totaled 49.475 and gained a 148.275-147.975 lead.
Looking to finish strong, Utah began the final rotation with solid 9.825s from Paulson and Stanhope to set the tone. Completing a terrific night in the all-around, McCallum impressed the home crowd and recorded a huge 9.975 to wrap up her Huntsman Center debut and win the all-around, as well as the floor title. She posted a 39.675 in the all-around, which is the highest in the NCAA this season.
Utah continued to finish strong as Rucker tallied a 9.925 and O'Keefe followed with a 9.85. Meanwhile on beam, the Sooners were forced to count a fall after seeing their fourth and fifth gymnasts in the lineup drop off the beam. With the meet already a lock, Sydney Soloski put the exclamation point on the night and added another 9.925 to push the floor score to 49.500 and final to the highest ever in a home opener for Utah Gymnastics.
The Utes will begin Pac-12 play next Friday, Jan. 21, against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Salt Lake City. Utah and Arizona State will compete at 7 p.m. MT at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The meet will air on the Pac-12 Network.