Utes finishes strong to win her fifth conference title
Minutes after the Utah gymnastics team took a slight lead at the Pac-12 gymnastics championships, it felt like the Utes were tensing. First Grace McCallum failed on the balance beam and scored a 9.85, then Alexia Burch also failed and scored a 9.8.
Next came Abby Paulson, a gymnast who had an unpredictable season. Utah fans who’ve followed the team this year must have known their routine could determine the outcome of the conference meeting.
Paulson didn’t let the moment pass as the junior pulled off her best balance beam routine of the year.
The nearly flawless performance brought in 9.975, but in reality it was worth so much more.
It was just the routine the Utes needed to calm nerves and have them rolling to the 2022 Pac-12 Championship at the Maverik Center on Saturday.
The Utes also won the championship in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2021, but this one was especially sweet as Utah shared the regular-season title with the other teams participating in their session after they all went 5-2- records were tied. The Utes lost to Cal and Arizona in the regular season.
“Let’s get this straightened out,” said fifth-year Sydney Soloski of the gathering. “All three of these teams are great teams, even in the first session they are great and it was cool to get a second chance. We always love the Pac-12s, it’s a fun meet up but this was a little more special, no co-champs.”
McCallum of Utah won the uneven bars title with a 10.0, Paulson won the bar with her performance, and Burch won the vault with a 9.925. Oregon State’s Jade Carey won the floor with a 9.975 and the all-around with a 39.725.
Earlier in the day, the Maile O’Keefe was named Pac-12 Specialist of the Year.
Paulson’s beam routine put the Utes to a 49.65 in that event, with Cristal Isa and Maile O’Keefe scoring 9.95 and Amelie Morgan a 9.925.
Vault: Alexia Burch (Utah) 9.925
Uneven Bars: Grace McCallum (Utah) 10.0
Balance beam: Abby Paulson (Utah) 9.975
Floor: Jade Carey (Oregon State) 9.95
All-Around: Jade Carey (Oregon State) 39,725
1. Utah 198; 2. Cal 197.425; 3. Oregon State 197.25; 4.UCLA 196.95; 5. State of Arizona 196,675; 6. Washington 196.4; 7.Arizona 196,362; 8.Stanford 196.0
That effort earned Utah a 148.475 going into the final rotation, with Oregon State in second (148.075), Cal in third (148.025), and Arizona State in fourth (147.45).
Utah finished the match on the floor, scoring 49.525, McCallum 9.95, and O’Keefe and Soloski 9.925.
The last two disciplines were so dominating for the Utes that it was easy to forget that they started in a vaulted hole and only scored a 49.275, with Burch being the only gymnast to break the 9.9 mark with a 9.925.
That puts the Utes behind Oregon State (49.45) and Cal (49.425).
Utah made a big move on the uneven bars, where McCallum scored her second 10.0 of the season at the event and accelerated Utah to a 49.55.
Isa had a 9.925 and Sage Thompson and Amelie Morgan had 9.9 seconds.
Utah coach Tom Farden said he can feel things changing with McCallum’s bars routine.
“She was in her element today,” Farden said. “She dropped that exit and it was cool to see.”
The big effort put the Utes ahead and set the Utes up for their dominating efforts in the last two events.
“We were focused on the fight,” O’Keefe said. “We knew one set couldn’t dictate the ending and we just kept going.”
The Utes will find out on Tuesday in the 10 am., pick show where they will go for NCAA regional championships from March 30th to April 2nd.
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https://www.sltrib.com/sports/utah-utes/2022/03/19/utah-gymnastics-team-wins/ Utah gymnastics team wins Pac-12 championship