Utah’s fourth-place gymnastics team beat third-place Oklahoma


Balance ray advantage helps Utes win at Huntsman Center

(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 .

Another year, different expectations and different lineups, but for the Utah gymnastics team, one thing remained the same Friday — their balance beam work remained untouchable.

The fourth-placed Utes used their favorite Friday event to beat Oklahoma No. 3 197,775-196.65 in front of 10,804 fans at the Huntsman Center.

Utes is leading just 98.8-98.775 going into the balance beam, but totaling 49,475 in the helm event with a 148,275-147.975 lead.

That’s just the kind of performance the Utes hope to have.

“We were fourth last season so people thought we were going to be pretty good but we wanted to show them that we’re not just fourth,” said Sydney Soloski. “We want to show the entire fitness conference that we are a force to be reckoned with and will only get better.”

Individual Winner

Vault: Jordan Bowers (Oklahoma) 9,975

Irregular bars: Sage Thompson (Utah) and Audrey Davis (Oklahoma) 9,925

Balance beam: Ragan Smith (Oklahoma) 9,975

Floor: Grace McCallum (Utah) 9,975

Surrounding: Grace McCallum (Utah) 39,675

Utes is powered through a balance beam with 9.925 seconds from Cristal Isa, Grace McCallum and Maile O’Keefe and 9.9 seconds from Abby Paulson.

It’s just the kind of effort fans are used to seeing from Utes, who finished 2021 with third place in the event and second in 2020.

Utah’s doing so well isn’t a surprise, after Utah has returned some strong veterans like Isa, O’Keefe, Paulson and Adrienne Randall, but it’s comforting for the Utes to see the seniors. most Amelie Morgan (9.75) and McCallum performed very well under great pressure.

Utah coach Tom Farden said: “As we all know beams can be a barrier.

As they did at the Best of Utah meeting, Utes gave freshmen the task of being first to the event on Friday.

The atmosphere on Friday was quite different from the opening day of the season, when the Utes knew they were going to win, minus some sort of frenzied meltdown.

This time the Utes team with the most winning sports program in recent seasons challenged them.

It’s impressive how uncluttered Utes are. McCallum later admitted that she was still getting used to the atmosphere at the Huntsman Center, much less the whole idea of ​​college gymnastics.

“The transition was harder than I thought it would be,” says McCallum. “As an elite, you’re going to have as much difficulty as you can and in college it’s perfection, so that’s a whole different mindset.”

Once the Utes were on the floor, they played like a team that knew they were going to win because they looked comfortable and relaxed in the final.

McCallum kept the fans on their toes with 9,975, and they remained there as Jaedyn Rucker followed with 9,925, O’Keefe with 9.85 and Soloski with 9,925 with 49.5 in the event.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, struggled on the balance bar. Although Ragan Smith had the highest score on the bar (9,975), the Sooners fell twice and scored 48,675. The Sooners seemed confused by Utah’s raucous crowds, or maybe they were just in the unusual position of being left behind during a meeting.

For Utes, getting such a high score at the start of the season is as gratifying as beating a arch-rival.

“We wanted to compete against the teams that knocked on the door of the national championship,” said Farden. “They are a well-trained team and it is a barn burner for us. That means it’s another step in the process but hopefully we have 15 steps to get us where we want to be. “ Utah’s fourth-place gymnastics team beat third-place Oklahoma

Beth Allcock

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