Red Rocks perform for fans at Huntsman Center for the first time in nearly two years
Utah’s gymnastics team thinks performing in front of a Huntsman Center crowd for the first time in 651 days will be the biggest deal on their Red Rocks preview on Friday.
Then the pre-season standings appeared.
Team Utes, who returned 23 of their 24 games from a team that finished third last year at the NCAA Championship, were ranked fourth in the pre-season coaches poll behind the champion. NCAA Michigan. Florida and Oklahoma also ranked above the Utes. Oklahoma was second last year and Florida was fourth.
Like the Utes, the Gators welcome a strong freshman class, but it’s evident that after the annual competition, the Utes aren’t thrilled to fall behind a team they beat in last year’s NCAA Championship .
“We can choose to be angry about it or push and prove them wrong and learn from it,” said student Maile O’Keefe. “Living on it would set us back, so our approach is to prove them wrong.”
The Utes certainly look like a team ready to compete with the best, employing eight gymnasts in every event. No scores were withheld, but coach Tom Farden was pleased with what he saw as Utes made few errors or critical mistakes.
“We wanted to introduce them to a live audience and take a turn with the freshmen and see who was toying with the sacred number six,” he said of the roster slots. “We wanted to dip their toes in the water in front of a live audience and they responded wonderfully.”
Olympian Grace McCallum performed in every event and had a few small bobbles. She admits being in front of thousands of people at the Huntsman Center was different for her.
“There is a lot of energy,” she said. “I need to find out how it goes beyond space. It’s too tall and too different from the elite but I absolutely love it.”
Farden said the Utes are quite cautious about vaults but expect to have six 10.0 vaults in the squad by the end of the season, compared with just four last year. The bar and balance bar have a few wiggles, but they’re mostly based on new tricks the team is trying out.
“This team is definitely different from a lot of other teams,” he said. “I’m not worried about them. I think they will do this or more. Some teams you come in and worry about how many falls we will have, not this team.”
That brings us back to the rankings, and it feels a bit uncomfortable for the Utes to rank.
Utes will have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves against ranked opponents as they face nine of the top 25 teams. The highlight of which is a meeting with Oklahoma in the opener. at home on January 14. Utes went on to take first place. 5 LSU, 7 California and 8 UCLA.
“I get it,” he said. “I watched Michigan last year and they looked amazing, really good. “Florida has an amazing class and so do we. Oklahoma has been a solid city for the past decade. The upper face is quite stout.”
Pre-season gymnastics poll 2021-22
1. Michigan, 2405 (37 votes in first place)
2. Florida, 2319 (16 votes in first place)
3. Oklahoma, 2317 (6 votes in first place)
4. Utah, 2306 (8 votes in first place)
5. LSU, 2179 (1 vote in first place)
6. Alabama, 2027
7. California, 2020
8. UCLA, 1887
9. Minnesota, 1803
10. Denver, 1763
11. Arkansas, 1700
12. Arizona St., 1666
13. Kentucky, 1571
14. Auburn, 1460
15. Georgia, 1384
16. Missouri, 1334
17. Oregon St ,. 1316
18. Iowa, 1308
19. BYU, 1208
20. Iowa St., 1005
21. NC St., 981
22. Ohio St ,. 957
23. Illinois, 919
24. Boise St., 908
25. SUU, 864
https://www.sltrib.com/sports/utah-utes/2021/12/18/why-utah-gymnastics-isnt/ Why Utah Gymnastics Aren’t Satisfied With Pre-Season 4th Rank