Nation's Top Beam Score of the Season Boosts #2 Utah In 197.675-196.000 Win Over #19 Stanford
SALT LAKE CITY – The second-ranked University of Utah gymnasts used the highest beam score in the nation this year to propel themselves to a 197.675-196.000 win over No. 19 Stanford in Salt Lake City. After a strong bars rotation to get some momentum going, the Red Rocks counted no lower than a 9.90 on beam, which was capped off with a Perfect 10.0 by Maile O'Keefe, to combine for a 49.725 in the third rotation.
"It was a very slow start today," said head coach Tom Farden. "I really felt like there was no energy in our vaults. After that, bars and beam were some of our season's best – if not our best. On floor, it was one of those days that we couldn't sustain momentum."
The Utes started slow after posting just a 49.125 on vault. Alexia Burch was the highest scoring Ute on the event for the second meet in a row, posting a 9.90 to win her second title of the season. Grace McCallum began her night in the all-around with a 9.85 in the anchor spot, while Jillian Hoffman and Maile O'Keefe added 9.825s in the first two routines. Lucy Stanhope wrapped up the scoring five with a 9.725.
Utah found the momentum it needed on the uneven bars after coming in just shy of a season high as a group. Amelie Morgan set the tone with a 9.825 and later on fellow freshman Sage Thompson posted a 9.85. McCallum continued to build the scores with a 9.875 before Cristal Isa matched a career-best 9.95 to win her third event title of the year. O'Keefe wrapped up the rotation with a season-high 9.90, which put the event total at 49.400.
Leading the Cardinal 98.525-97.900 through two rotations, the meet quickly turned into a beam highlight reel as Utah's lowest counted score would be a 9.90. Morgan proved to be a steady leadoff as she has all year with a season-high 9.90, while McCallum and Abby Paulson combined for consecutive 9.95s in the third and fourth spots.
Isa continued her strong showing with a 9.925, while the 11,138 fans in attendance were then treated to a flawless routine by O'Keefe in the anchor spot. O'Keefe earned the first Perfect 10.0 of the season for Utah and the second of her career to push the beam rotation to a 49.725. The beam score is the highest in the nation this year and was just 0.050 shy of matching the school-record score posted in 2020.
"All the credit goes to Carly Dockendorf on beam," said Farden on the excellent rotation. "Her creativity, her connection with the athletes, and her confidence that she instills in them to provide our athletes with the 'it' quality… you just can't really describe it. They just have it. This is potentially the best balance beam team in the country and in the history of our program."
The Red Rocks continued momentum over on floor shortly after the standing ovation for O'Keefe, earning a leadoff 9.90 from Jillian Hoffman and a 9.875 from Isa. After Jaedyn Rucker stepped out of bounds, Utah looked to drop her score and got right back on track with a huge 9.95 from McCallum the following routine. O'Keefe wrapped up her debut in the all-around with a 9.825 on floor, while Sydney Soloski anchored the floor team with a 9.875. The Utes posted a 49.425 on floor to pick up the team's sixth-straight win this season and 15th consecutive conference win. McCallum won the floor title, as well as the all-around title to boast a team-high six wins this season.
No. 2 Utah will hit the road for its first true road meet of the season, heading to Los Angeles next Friday, Feb. 4. Utah will take on No. 25 UCLA at 8 p.m. MT on ESPN at Pauley Pavilion.