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#3 Utah Outlasts #22 UCLA To Remain Undefeated

Feb 4, 2022

LOS ANGELES – The third-ranked Utah gymnasts escaped Pauley Pavilion with a 197.750-197.650 win over No. 22 UCLA Friday night, remaining undefeated this season. Powered by season highs on bars and vault to begin the meet, Utah held on for the win despite being forced to count a fall in the final rotation.

"On three events we started off incredible," said head coach Tom Farden. "I really felt they were aggressive and doing a good job on bars, vault and floor. I know on vault and floor we had a couple mistakes, but we thought the momentum was going Utah's way. Amelie (Morgan) started us off on balance beam incredible and unfortunately we had a little trouble on the interior of beam, but then the last three athletes' locked it down. I am very impressed with the athletes fortitude to come down with the win in a very hostile environment."

Utah began the night on a high note as the bars set posted a season-best 49.550. Amelie Morgan set the tone early on with a season-high 9.90 in the leadoff spot, while Sage Thompson added a 9.875 and Alexia Burch followed with a 9.825. Grace McCallum swung through a routine seamlessly and went on to earn Utah's first Perfect 10 on bars this season and the first since Georgia Dabritz did so in 2015. Cristal Isa continued the momentum with another 9.90 for the rotation, and Maile O'Keefe wrapped up the first event with a 9.875.

Matching the season-high bars effort was the Utah vault team, which also posted a 49.550. Jillian Hoffman started the group with a season-high 9.875, while Cammy Hall dropped in a season-high 9.925. Breaking out a career-high 9.95 was Lucy Stanhope in the next position, and Jaedyn Rucker continued the hot start with a 9.90. Burch couldn't find the landing on her vault, but McCallum posted a 9.90 in the anchor spot to ensure a strong scoring-five and become the fourth 9.90 or better score of the rotation.

The ideal start to the meet with a pair of season-high events put Utah ahead 99.100-98.725 over UCLA at the halfway mark. The lead would be extended thanks to a phenomenal floor set, which was highlighted by 9.95s from McCallum and Sydney Soloski. Adding to the 9.90-club on the night were O'Keefe and Abby Paulson's routines that scored a 9.925 and 9.90, respectively. Hoffman once again served as a steady leadoff and posted a 9.875 to complete out the 49.600 team score.

With the meet in Utah's control leading 148.700-148.050, the Red Rocks were set to finish the competition on beam. Morgan recorded her second-straight 9.90 on beam, but the momentum suddenly shifted after back-to-back falls ensued. With the team needing to count a 9.350 and still having three more routines to go, the meet quickly shifted as UCLA's floor team began rolling in high scores and cut the deficit.

Paulson came in big with a much-needed 9.90 after the pair of mishaps, while Isa recorded a 9.925 to add to the count. After UCLA's Chiles earned a perfect score on floor that had the rowdy crowd on their feet and cheering, O'Keefe contained her composure and managed to record a meet-clinching 9.975 as Utah's anchor amidst the roars of the crowd during the entire routine. Her near perfect routine pushed Utah ahead 197.750-197.650 in a thriller once again at Pauley Pavilion.

O'Keefe's meet-winning routine earned her the beam title for the second-straight meet, while Stanhope's career day on vault earned the sophomore her second vault win of the season. McCallum's 10.0 on bars is her seventh win this season.

No. 3 Utah will continue road Pac-12 play next Saturday, Feb. 12, against No. 10 California. The Utes and the Golden Bears will compete at 5 p.m. MT at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif.