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Utah gymnastics signs 5-star Junior Olympic floor medalist MaKenna Smith

Smith is the only announced member of Utah’s 2022 signing class and will begin competing for the Red Rocks in January 2023

Utah heads coach Tom Farden celebrates Alexia Burch’s vault routine during the Arizona State and University of Utah gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.
Utah heads coach Tom Farden celebrates Alexia Burch’s vault routine during the Arizona State and University of Utah gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

National signing day provides the opportunity to look toward the future, and if Wednesday was any indication, the future of Utah’s gymnastics program will continue to be bright.

The program announced Wednesday morning that five-star Junior Olympic floor medalist MaKenna Smith signed as the only (current) member of Utah’s 2022 recruiting class.

She will join the team next fall and will begin competing for Utah in January 2023.

“We are very excited about Makenna joining our program next fall. Her love for gymnastics is infectious! She brings all-around potential and is coming from the same gym as Utah great Tory Wilson.

“Makenna has gone 9.95 or higher three times on vault in the last two years, including a perfect 10, which is rare at the club level. It was very important to our program to continue to bring in vaults that not only start from a 10.0 in NCAA, but vaulters who demonstrate a high level of success with this event.” — Utah head coach Tom Farden

The accolades

Smith has had an extremely successful club career at Gold Cup Gymnastics in New Mexico.

  • She is a three-time Junior Olympic national championships qualifier.
  • She earned a silver medal on floor exercise at the 2018 and 2019 J.O. National Championships.
  • She finished tied for fifth on vault and sixth on floor at the 2021 national championships.
  • She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Cup in 2019 and won a gold medal on floor, finished tied for third on beam and placed eighth overall in the all-around.
  • She is a five-time regional champion and won gold medals on vault, bars and floor at the 2021 Region 3 Championships this past April. She scored a perfect 10.0 on vault for the win, while scoring a 9.90 on bars and a 9.925 on floor.
  • She was also the 2019 regional balance beam champion and the 2018 regional all-around champion.
  • She was dominant in competition in her home state, claiming seven gold medals at the state championships over two years.

Why Utah?

Rated a 5-star recruit by College Gym News — one of 18 in total — Smith is a top-7 recruit who was originally committed to Ohio State. The pandemic spurred her to de-commit from the Buckeyes and commit to Utah in order to be closer to home (Albuquerque, New Mexico).

“COVID-19 was crazy,” Smith told College Gym News’ Talitha Ilacqua. “And I (wanted to make sure that) if something like this were to happen again, I’d be closer to my family (in New Mexico). I started looking at places that were closer, and (one of them was) Utah... It’s close to home, it reminds me of home but I get to be far enough away that I learn to be independent.”

With Smith, Utah has the seventh-best class in 2022 according to College Gym News, behind:

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida
  3. California
  4. Stanford
  5. Georgia
  6. UCLA

Penn State, Kentucky and LSU round out the top 10.