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What does Utah have in new assistant coach Jimmy Pratt?

Pratt has over 20 years of coaching experience, at the Elite club level at All-American Gymnastics and in the NCAA at Denver and BYU

The University of Utah’s Red Rocks gymnastics team huddles in a circle and jumps up in the air in a cheer as at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021.
The Utah Red Rocks cheer before competing against the Cal Golden Bears in the floor routine during a gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. On Tuesday, Utah announced the hiring of assistant coach Jimmy Pratt.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Tom Farden is not one to waste time.

A day after the official news broke that former Utah gymnastics coaches Garrett Griffeth and Courtney McCool Griffeth had taken jobs at LSU, Utah announced a replacement — Jimmy Pratt.

The reaction was immediate.

Utah gymnasts Sydney Soloski, Cristal Isa and Abby Paulson all chimed in via Twitter, with Isa noting “not to brag, but our staff is a flex and a half.”

The team’s official Twitter account even got involved, with three simple words: “Power moves only.”

Utah has a reason for excitement. Pratt brings over 20 years of coaching experience in the sport to Salt Lake City.

A graduate of BYU, Pratt spent the last two years as an assistant coach at the University of Denver — the reigning Big 12 champs — guiding some of the best gymnasts in the country, including Lynnzee Brown and Maddie Karr, All-Americans on floor exercise and vault.

Denver’s Lynnzee Brown competes in the floor exercise during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics championships Friday, April 20, 2018, in St. Louis.
Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

Before that, he spent 18 years at All-American Gymnastics in Lindon — he was the club’s head coach from 2011 to 2019 — coaching at both the Elite and Junior Olympic levels. Among his prized pupils were former Red Rocks MaKenna Merrell-Giles, Kim Tessen and Hunter Dula. At the time Pratt was hired by Denver, his club gymnasts had earned a combined 10 All-America honors at the NCAA level and six Junior Olympic national titles.

“I have known him for over a decade,” Farden, Utah’s head coach, said in a release. “His work ethic and enthusiasm for excellence is contagious, and we are ecstatic about him coming home and being an integral part of our program.”

While at Denver, Pratt coached floor and vault, and the Pioneers ranked No. 9 in the county on floor in 2020 and No. 9 on vault in 2021. He will be Utah’s primary coach on vault, replacing Griffeth, who guided the Red Rocks to a No. 8 ranking on vault in back-to-back seasons.

With a national title the ever present goal, Utah needs to improve on the event and there is confidence that Pratt is the coach who can make that happen.

“Jimmy is an expert technician,” said Farden, “and has produced many top-level gymnasts.”

The return to Utah is a homecoming for Pratt, who also coached at BYU in 2009-10, as a volunteer assistant coach, with his responsibilities including vault and bars.

“My family and I are grateful and honored for the opportunity to work with Utah gymnastics, its dedicated staff, the remarkable athletic department and to be part of the community that is the University of Utah,” Pratt said. “To work with student-athletes of this caliber is any coach’s dream come true and I am thrilled with the opportunity to strive alongside them in fulfilling their athletic, academic and personal aspirations.”

Utah still has a volunteer assistant coaching position available.