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Utah Gymnastics Team Opens Season With Victory in Utah’s Best Encounter

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Wyoming came in second, followed by BYU and Southern Utah.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah coach Tom Farden celebrates with Cristal Isa after her performance on the parallel bars at the Utah NCAA’s Best Gymnastics Meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, January 7, 2022.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Grace McCallum of Utah performs on stage at the Utah NCAA’s Best Gymnastics Meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, January 7, 2022 .

Well, let’s talk about the college gymnastics introduction.

Instead of reducing the stellar rookie class to the fray, Utah put them to the test right on Friday as Amelie Morgan, Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker were the first three to attend the Utes as they began the Good Encounters. of Utah on the balance ring.

The move was supposed to sound like a joke or at least a challenging joke for the trio.

See, you’re launching your university, competing in front of a crowd for the first time in over a year, and facing the most hype a freshman class has ever had – so here you go. stand up, immediately.

The trio handled the situation well. In fact, the entire team did as the fourth-placed Utes easily won Best of Utah Meet Friday with a score of 197.1. Wyoming came in second with 195,875, followed by BYU (195,225) and Southern Utah (195.0).

Utes, who have dominated on balance in recent seasons, have scored 49,375 in the event as the three rookies all hit 9,875s and Cristal Isa has 9.9 and Maile O’Keefe has 9, 85.

Utah coach Tom Farden calls it a “baptism of fire,” admitting the beam formation puts newcomers under pressure.

“It’s ‘Here it is,'” he said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Maile O’Keefe of Utah performs on stage at the Utah NCAA’s Best Gymnastics Meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, Jan. year 2022.

Utah’s Best Individual Winner

Vault • Jaedyn Rucker and Grace McCallum (Utah) 9.9

Irregular bars • Cristal Isa and Maile O’Keefe (Utah) 9,875

Balance Beam • Cristal Isa (Utah) 9.9

Floor • Brie Clark (Utah State) 9,925

Surrounding • Rebecca Wells (Utah State) 39,125

Unfortunately, Eater’s night didn’t end as well as it began. Eaker, a substitute on the Olympic team, had to be helped off the floor after her hand slipped on the arch causing her to fall.

Farden said Eaker is being evaluated by doctors, but his attitude is not encouraging.

“I am devastated for Kara and it will test our depth,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure out a few things about the three events, the vault, the beams and the floor. This is an athlete who is an Olympic-level athlete and they don’t come in bad times.”

Luckily for the Utes, depth is something they have in abundance, in contrast to last year when the Utes were thin. Depth showed on Friday when Jillian Hoffman joined the vault lineup for Eaker and scored 9.8 with a vault worth 9.9.

“It’s a beautiful cellar,” said Farden.

Utes scored just 49,175 points on the floor, with a peak of 9,875 from Abby Paulson.

Receiving a low score in that event can be expected early in the season as the Utes limit the hard landing in training.

“We had obvious mistakes but it was a good start,” said O’Keefe. “Sometimes you don’t want to start off perfect because then you only have so much room to grow and we will only get better.”

After scoring 49,325 on the vault, where Utes had 9.9 seconds from Jaedyn Rucker and McCallum, Utes finished with 49,225 on uneven bars. Isa and O’Keefe have 9,875s for the high score.

All in all, it was a solid opening attempt for a team hoping to win a national title. Friday’s home opener against 3 Oklahoma would say more about the team’s place in the big picture, now that the opener is behind them.

“That’s the most fans we’ve been through since March 2020. “Just having that in the arena again feels good,” said O’Keefe.

https://www.sltrib.com/sports/2022/01/07/utah-gymnastics-team/ Utah Gymnastics Team Opens Season With Victory in Utah’s Best Encounter

Beth Allcock

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