#4 Utah Battles #7 LSU To The Wire, Ultimately Falls 198.125-197.875 In Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 4 Utah gymnasts closed out the regular season on Friday night, traveling to Baton Rouge for a top-10 matchup against No. 7 LSU. Although the Utes fought until the very end after trailing from the start, Utah ultimately fell 198.125-197.875 on the road.
"We were mixing up our lineups a bit with the absence of a few athletes and were pleased with those that stepped in," said head coach Tom Farden. "Not the ideal start on bars, but I definitely thought our last two routines were good. It was also not the ideal start on vault in terms of the first vault, but the next five were solid. The finish on floor was nice and really, in this hostile environment with a tight meet going into the last rotation, I don't think we can ask more from balance beam. It was really incredible for the first five up."
Utah kicked off the meet with a 49.400 on bars, but found itself trailing LSU after the Tigers posted a 49.525 on vault. Amelie Morgan led the group off strong with a 9.85, while Grace McCallum began her night in the all-around with a 9.925. Abby Paulson added in a 9.825, but a fall in the next spot put the pressure on the final two gymnasts. Sage Thompson and Cristal Isa came up big with a pair of 9.90s to close out the rotation and push the Utes to a 49.400 on bars.
The Red Rocks rotated to vault and recorded another 49.400 to continue the momentum. Thompson led off the group with a 9.725, but the rest of the lineup built through and managed to drop her score. The slew of Yurchenko 1.5s began with a 9.85 from Cammy Hall, while Lucy Stanhope, Jaedyn Rucker and Burch each rolled in consecutive 9.875s. McCallum anchored the set with a 9.925 to push the vault score to a 49.400. After two rotations, the Utes trailed the Tigers 98.950-98.800.
Looking to gain some ground on the Tigers, Paulson began the floor set with a 9.85 and was followed by a 9.875 from Jaylene Gilstrap. Stanhope returned to the lineup and collected another 9.875 for the Utes. Rucker posted a 9.775 before McCallum recorded a 9.85. Sydney Soloski remained consistent as ever and posted a 9.95 in the anchor spot to give the rotation a lift.
With a 49.400 on floor, Utah went into the final rotation still trailing and looked for a big push on the final event to pull off the comeback. Behind the Tigers 147.450-148.200, the two squads traded punches in the final event. Morgan posted a 9.925 in the leadoff spot to get beam started and McCallum followed with a 9.90. Burch stepped into the beam lineup for the second time this season and earned a 9.90 for the team.
After a great start to the rotation, Paulson and Isa each recorded near-perfect routines and collected consecutive 9.975s to continue the electric beam set. Kara Eaker posted a 9.875 in the anchor spot that went on to be dropped and the Utes would close out the meet with a 49.675 on beam. Despite collecting five scores of 9.90 or better, the Utes matched the Tigers' floor score and fell 198.125-197.875 with a valiant fight in the end.
Utah Gymnastics turns its attention to the postseason beginning next Saturday, March 19 at the Pac-12 Championships. The Utes will go in as the top seed at the conference championships and will compete in the night session at 6 p.m. MT at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.