Season Bests On Bars and Floor Guide No. 2 Utah In Win Over No. 13 Arizona State
SALT LAKE CITY – After a roller coaster meet, the No. 2-ranked Utah gymnasts secured their first Pac-12 win of the season Friday night after downing No. 13 Arizona State 197.400-196.100 in the conference opener. The Red Rocks posted a season high on bars and after a shaky beam rotation, the Utes posted the nation's second best floor score of the year to end the night in fashion.
"The ultimate takeaway from tonight is that we have to put together all four events," said head coach Tom Farden. "Coming into warmups, I saw the vibe from the very beginning and as coaches we have to help them come in a little more prepared and be more intentional right out of the gates. I know when they are on and that was last weekend. I know when they have some quirks and that was this weekend."
Utah started the night with solid production on vault, which was led by Alexia Burch and Lucy Stanhope's 9.90s that would eventually win the vault title. Jillian Hoffman and Cammy Hall scored 9.80s to begin the rotation, while Grace McCallum added a 9.825 and Jaedyn Rucker totaled a 9.85. Utah combined for a 49.275 on vault to lead Arizona State, which posted a 49.225 on bars, through the first event.
The Utes looked to have some momentum working its way through the bars rotation after posting a season-high 49.425 as a team. Amelie Morgan set the tone early as she posted a season-high 9.875. In her first bar routine of the season, Burch swung her way to a career-high 9.90 to keep the hot start going. Sage Thompson followed with a 9.85 before McCallum collected a season-high 9.925 that would earn her the first uneven bars title of her career. After Cristal Isa battled through a routine despite a mishap, Maile O'Keefe anchored for Utah and posted a 9.875 to round out the set and drop Isa's score.
Working with a slim 98.700-98.400 lead over the Sun Devils, Utah opened beam with a 9.775 from Morgan, but struggled to find any sort of consistency throughout the next three gymnasts. Following a fall and a pair of scores in the 9.6-range, Isa had a huge bounce back routine and brought the crowd to their feet as she rolled in a career-high 9.975. The routine seemed to be the momentum changer the Red Rocks needed as O'Keefe stepped up next and worked her way to a 9.95 to wrap up an otherwise subpar rotation for Utah.
Utah held onto a 0.250 lead heading into the final rotation following the 49.025 on beam. Keeping the momentum, Hoffman led off the floor team with a career-high 9.975 in her first floor routine of the year. Hoffman's routine, which went on to be the first event win of her career, sparked the rest of the lineup as the Utes finished with four floor scores of 9.90 or better, combining for a 49.675.
Stanhope posted a 9.875 in the second spot, while Rucker cruised to a 9.925. With the meet seemingly in control after Arizona State had its own issues on beam, O'Keefe and Sydney Soloski closed out the night in fashion with a pair of 9.95s.
No. 2 Utah will be back in action next Saturday, Jan. 29, to host No. 13 Stanford. The Utes and Cardinal will compete at 2 p.m. MT in Salt Lake City. The meet will be live streamed and will be 'Character Day' inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center.