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Utah gymnastics: Red Rocks to 're-address their approach' following back-to-back losses

Utah women's gymnastics co-head coach Megan Marsden watches a beam routine during warmups at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.
Utah women's gymnastics co-head coach Megan Marsden watches a beam routine during warmups at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — When Michigan’s Emma McLean was awarded a 9.950 for her floor routine Saturday afternoon, it sealed Utah’s fate — for the first time in six years, the No. 4 Red Rocks had lost consecutive meets.

The last time that happened was 2012, when Utah fell to Nebraska and Florida. Interestingly enough, the Red Rocks lost back-to-back meets the previous season too, losing to Florida and Oregon State.

Both the 2011 and 2012 teams rallied to finish the season strong, making it through the Pac-12 meets and regionals, but fell short of a national title, finishing fifth both seasons.

With the Red Rocks' goal being basically title or bust, back-to-back defeats late in the regular season was the last thing they wanted.

And yet, according to co-head coach Megan Marsden, Utah will be fine.

“It’s not unusual to have a loss. If you look at our records over time we don’t have very many undefeated records,” said Marsden. “Tom (Farden) and I are not overly concerned. The losses happened to land back-to-back, which is a little unfortunate, but we didn’t have major problems.”

The most concerning part of Saturday’s loss to the Wolverines wasn’t even the Red Rocks' performance, according to Marsden, but rather the tight scoring.

“The most concerning thing was that the judging (at Michigan) was very tight. We didn’t get a very good score even though our athletes didn’t fall,” said Marsden. “Floor was great and bars was the best we have done this year as a team.”

There were problems, however, as Utah left something to be desired on vault and beam, but Marsden remains positive and hopeful.

“We have to re-address some things with our approach, but we are going to try and get back on track.”

BACK AGAIN: While many of her teammates struggled with the tight scoring at Michigan, MyKayla Skinner thrived in her return to the all-around lineup.

She scored a 9.900 or better on every event, including a 9.950 on floor and a nearly meet-saving 9.925 on beam.

“MyKayla came back with a vengeance,” said Marsden. “She doesn’t love to not compete. Ever. On anything. She was a good sport about (resting against Cal), but I think it was hard on her; just emotionally to not be out there giving it her all on every event. When she got that opportunity again, look out, there she was.”

Her beam routine was notable, as it followed the wobbly performances of Kari Lee and Missy Reinstadtler.

“I usually watch the first couple of routines and as I was watching us go I was like ‘It’s OK, everyone hit their beam routine,’” said Skinner. “Then Kari’s score (9.825) came up and then Missy’s score (9.675) and I was like ‘Oh man. I have to step in and do my job.’ The pressure was really coming on. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it.”

She was clearly able, matching her season-high score on the event.

“It was really fun to go up there and hit that beam routine,” said Skinner. “I have been working really hard on everything, and it was cool to show the team that when they needed me, I could do it.”

WAITING FOR THAT CALL: Saturday’s meet also saw a pair of freshmen in lineups they had not previously been in, specifically Sydney Soloski on beam and Lauren Wong on bars.

Both moves were necessitated by injuries; sophomore Kim Tessen has an injured shoulder while Alexia Burch has a sprained knee. The gymnasts were solid as substitutes.

“They stepped in and did a really nice job,” Marsden sadi. "That is nothing but a positive.”

As for Tessen, her shoulder is day to day, and “not in good shape,” but the coaching staff hopes to have her compete on either vault or bars for the rest of the season.

Burch, meanwhile, should be back in short order, possibly this weekend.

“Her sprained knee is minor,” said Marsden. “We are making beam the priority. It may not be Friday, but hopefully by Pac-12s.”


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