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Exactly how talented is this Utah team? A look at the 2022 Red Rocks

The No. 4-ranked Utes are loaded this season, boasting the deepest and arguably most talented team Utah has had in years

Utah’s Maile O’Keefe reacts after competing on the beam during the Pac-12 gymnastics championships in West Valley City.
Utah’s Maile O’Keefe reacts after competing on the beam during the Pac-12 gymnastics championships in West Valley City on Saturday, March 20, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Neither Alexia Burch nor Sydney Soloski hesitated. Not even for a moment.

Sitting inside the Dumke Center at the University of Utah, surrounded by red and white regalia that celebrates Utah gymnastics’ success over the years — think nine NCAA national championships and one AIAW title — both Burch and Soloski were definitive: the 2022 Red Rocks are the most talented team they’ve been a part of at Utah.

Fifth year seniors, or as they are called by their teammates, “Grandma seniors,” Burch and Soloski have been at Utah since the fall of 2017. They’ve competed for NCAA national championships. They’ve won Pac-12 conference titles. They’ve called Olympians, national champions and a host of All-Americans their teammates (and earned a few All-America nods themselves).

Without any hesitation or animus toward any previous team, though, the 2022 Red Rocks are the best they’ve ever seen.

“Uh yeah, for sure,” Burch said. “This is by far the most talented team I’ve been on.”

Soloski was even more terse.

“Yes,” she said. “100%.”

Utah head coach Tom Farden was a little more reticent to declare this year’s team the best he has been around at the U., in large part because of the elite talent that has come through Salt Lake City over the years.

“We’ve had a lot of talented teams and I don’t want to dismiss the teams of the last 12 or 13 years,” he said. “We’ve had some really, really talented kids come through here. I don’t want to dismiss that.”

But ... with all but one gymnast back from the 2021 team that finished third at the national championships, plus two Olympic medalists, an Olympic alternate and a Junior Olympic national champion entering the fold, even Farden will admit there is something different about the 2022 Red Rocks.

“What strikes me about this team is if we keep them happy, healthy and hungry, we can do some things that we haven’t had the luxury to do before,” Farden said. “Watch out.”

Fifth year seniors

Utah’s Alexia Burch performs on the beam as Utah and UCLA compete in a gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.
Utah’s Alexia Burch performs on the beam as Utah and UCLA compete in a gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

Alexia Burch

Burch took advantage of the extra year of eligibility extended to athletes due to COVID-19 and returns as one of the most polished gymnasts at Utah.

Last season, she was regular in the bars, beam and vault lineups — she was the best vaulter the Utes had — but that is expected to change somewhat this year.

“For me, it’ll probably vault and bars,” Burch said.

Bars is especially notable, as Burch has completely remade herself on that event during her time at Utah. Beam, meanwhile, has been one of her greatest strengths in college, but the depth of talent Utah has on the event this year could keep her out of the lineup, at least when it comes to postseason competition.

Accolades

  • 2021 Regular Season All-American (vault)
  • 2021 Pac-12 Specialist of the Year
  • Two-time All-Pac-12 Conference

Career highs

  • Bars — 9.8875 in NCAA semifinal (Apr. 17, 2021)
  • Beam — 9.95 at UCLA (Feb. 23, 2020)
  • Floor — 9.85 vs. Cal (Feb. 25, 2018)
  • Vault — 9.975 vs. ASU (Feb. 6, 2021); UCLA (Feb. 19, 2021)

Sydney Soloski

Like Burch, Soloski is back for an extra season thanks to COVID-19. While she has had moments in her career where she has competed on beam and vault, the Canadian national is known for her prowess on floor, and for good reason.

She was Utah’s anchor on the event the last two seasons and will be again, with a routine that should regularly score in the 9.90 range or better.

“Obviously with Sydney, her strength is floor and it always will be,” Burch said.

Accolades

  • Four-time All-American (two regular season, two NCAA)
  • Two-time All-Pac-12 Conference
  • 2021 Pac-12 Floor Co-Champion
  • Two-time Pac-12 Specialist of the Week

Career highs

  • Beam — 9.875 vs. Georgia (Mar. 16, 2018); in the NCAA regional final (April 6, 2019)
  • Floor — 9.975 vs. Washington (Jan. 30, 2021)
  • Vault — 9.875 at Arizona (Feb. 1, 2020)

Seniors

Utah’s Cammy Hall reacts after her vault as Utah and Washington compete in an NCAA gymnastics match at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. #4 Utah won 197.475 to 193.300.
Utah’s Cammy Hall reacts after her vault as Utah and Washington compete in an NCAA gymnastics match at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. No. 4 Utah won 197.475 to 193.300.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Cammy Hall

Since she arrived at Utah, Hall has showcased tantalizing potential on vault, which is her event. At times, she has made good on that potential, becoming Utah’s best vaulter in select meets. Consistency has been her biggest hurdle, but there is hope that Hall has taken a step forward in that regard.

“She has upped her game on vault,” Burch said. “She is getting more consistent.”

Accolades

  • 2021 All-Pac-12 Conference on vault

Career highs

  • Vault — 9.95 vs. Stanford (March 6, 2020)

Cristal Isa

Isa was one of Utah’s best gymnasts last season, showcasing All-America-type ability on nearly every event, particularly bars and beam.

A regular in the all-around in 2021, Isa might not compete as often in that role this year, considering Utah’s wealth of depth, but she is more than capable on every event and likely a lock in both the bars and beam lineups.

“Cris is a strong all-arounder,” Burch said. “She will show out where ever she needs to be, for sure.”

Accolades

  • Four-time All-American (three regular season, one NCAA)
  • Five-time All-Pac-12 Conference
  • 2021 Pac-12 Bars Co-Champion
  • 2021 Pac-12 Beam Co-Champion

Career highs

  • All-around — 39.650 at the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021)
  • Vault — 9.875 vs. Oregon State (Feb. 15, 2020)
  • Bars — 9.95 in the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021)
  • Beam — 9.95 vs. Oregon State (Feb. 15, 2020); at UCLA (Feb. 23, 2020); at Washington (Mar. 1, 2020); vs. California (Feb. 26, 2021); at Oregon State (Mar. 5, 2021); in the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021); in the NCAA regional final (Apr. 3, 2021)
  • Floor — 9.925 at UCLA (Feb. 23, 2020)

Adrienne Randall

When Randall arrived at Utah, she was touted as a gymnast with all-around potential. While that hasn’t exactly proven to be the case, Randall has been a regular in Utah’s elite beam lineup with many successful appearances on floor.

Entering her senior year, Randall is primed to take a real step forward on floor, too, where she boasts arguably Utah’s most exciting routine.

“She has upped her game on floor,” Burch said. “She wants a spot in that lineup.”

Accolades

  • All-Pac-12 Conference (beam)

Career highs

  • Beam — 9.975 at UCLA (Feb. 23, 2020)
  • Floor — 9.95 vs. Arizona (Feb. 1, 2019)

Juniors

Utah’s Abby Paulson competes on the floor against Utah State University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 12, 2021.
Utah’s Abby Paulson competes on the floor against Utah State University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 12, 2021.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Jillian Hoffman

Hoffman has been beset by injuries throughout her Utah career — she missed all of last season and competed off and on as a freshman. Healthy at last, she is expected to make an impact on floor and vault, events that require elite athleticism, something she has plenty of.

“She is coming back strong on those events,” Burch said.

Career highs

  • Floor — 9.85 at California (Feb. 8, 2020) and vs. Oregon State (Feb. 15, 2020)

Maile O’Keefe

No Utah gymnast was more impressive in 2021 than O’Keefe. She became the next Utah great, winning Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year and two individual NCAA national titles.

At the Red Rocks Preview, O’Keefe was in midseason form, weeks before the regular season was slated to begin.

The junior has an element to her gymnastics that sets her apart, particularly on bars and beam, her two strongest events.

“She just has a flow that stands out,” Burch said.

Accolades

  • Two-time National Champion (bars, floor — 2021)
  • Seven-time All-American (four regular season, three NCAA)
  • Four-time All-Pac-12 Conference
  • Four-time Pac-12 Champion (all-around, bars, beam, floor)
  • 2021 Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year
  • 2021 Regional Beam Champion
  • Four-time Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week

Career highs

  • All-around — 39.725 at Oregon State, Mar. 5, 2021
  • Vault — 9.90 at Arizona State (Feb. 6, 2021); at Oregon State (Mar. 5, 2021)
  • Bars — 9.95 at Oregon State (Mar. 5, 2021); at the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021); at an NCAA regional final (Apr. 3, 2021); at the NCAA semifinal (Apr. 16, 2021);
  • Beam — 10.0 vs. Washington (Jan. 30, 2021)
  • Floor — 9.9625 at the NCAA Final (Apr. 17, 2021)

Abby Paulson

Paulson has been a regular contributor for Utah since her freshman season, competing on bars and floor, but especially beam.

One of only two Red Rocks to score a perfect 10 on beam in the last two seasons, Paulson is simply an elite on the event and a lock in the beam lineup.

“Beam is definitely her strongest event,” Burch said. “She is unreal on that event. Everyone knows that.”

Accolades

  • Two-time Regular Season All-American (beam)
  • Two-time All-Pac-12 Conference
  • 2021 Pac-12 Beam Co-Champion

Career highs

  • Bars — 9.8625 at the NCAA championship final (Apr. 17, 2021)
  • Beam — 10.0 at UCLA (Feb. 23, 2020)
  • Floor — 9.925 at the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021)

Jaedyn Rucker

Rucker’s career at Utah started slow after she missed all of her freshman year due to injury. Her sophomore season was a slow build, but by the end of the 2021 season, she was a major contributor on both vault and floor.

Now, she is expected to be a star on both events.

“Her strength is vault and floor,” Burch said. “Those are pretty even for her. She is phenomenal on both. She has also started training beam and bars more aggressively. She will be a major contributor.”

Accolades

  • Two-time All-Pac-12 Conference
  • 2021 Pac-12 Floor Co-Champion
  • Pac-12 Specialist of the Week

Career highs

  • Vault — 9.9875 at NCAA championship final (Apr. 17, 2021)
  • Bars — 9.725 vs. Utah State (Mar. 12, 2021)
  • Floor — 9.95 vs. California (Feb. 26, 2021); at the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021)

Sophomores

Utah Utes gymnast Lucy Stanhope competes during the NCAA regional second round at the Maverik Center on Friday, April 2, 2021.
Utah Utes gymnast Lucy Stanhope competes during the NCAA regional second round at the Maverik Center on Friday, April 2, 2021.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

Jaylene Gilstrap

Gilstrap contributed off and on for Utah as a freshman, and on both beam and floor, showcasing an elegant style not often seen in college gymnastics.

This year, she is once again expected to battle for a spot in the floor lineup.

“She is similar to Kara (Eaker). She has that elegant feel to her,” Soloski said. “It’s similar, but she has a totally different dance style. She brings great execution.”

Career highs

Beam — 9.70 vs. Arizona (Jan. 23, 2021)

Floor — 9.875 vs. UCLA (Feb. 19, 2021)


Alani Sabado

Sabado was a regular contributor on bars as a freshman in 2021 and the one competitive vault she competed saved Utah’s bid to win the Pac-12 championship.

Those events remain her strength and she has taken a step forward over the summer.

“She is only getting better,” Soloski said. “She has done a lot of work to clean up the deductions she had last year.”

Career highs

  • Vault — 9.80 at the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021)
  • Bars — 9.875 vs. Arizona (Jan. 23, 2021); at the NCAA regional final (Apr. 3, 2021); at NCAA championship semifinal (Apr. 16, 2021)

Lucy Stanhope

As a freshman, Stanhope played a key role in Utah’s success. She was a consistently strong competitor on three events — beam, floor and vault — and had clutch routines at both regionals and the national championships.

This season, she is expected to one of Utah’s chief vaulters, with the ability to contribute in other lineups when needed.

“She has put in a lot of technical work to improve the height, distance and landing,” Soloski said. “She is going to be a really big vault scorer for us this year.”

Career highs

  • Vault — 9.90 vs. Utah State (Mar. 12, 2021)
  • Bars — 9.275 at Oregon State (Mar. 5, 2021)
  • Beam — 9.90 at NCAA championship final (Apr. 17, 2021)
  • Floor — 9.90 vs. Utah State (Mar. 12, 2021); at the Pac-12 championships (Mar. 20, 2021); at NCAA regional final (Apr. 3, 2021)

Freshmen

Grace McCallum, of the United States, performs on the floor during the artistic gymnastics women’s final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo.
Natacha Pisarenko, AP

Kara Eaker

A U.S. Olympic alternate, Eaker might be the freshman who makes the biggest impact for Utah, at least this season.

Like O’Keefe, Eaker was season-ready at the Red Rocks Preview and already boasts competitive routines on beam, floor and vault.

“She is elite on beam and floor,” Soloski said. “Her performance quality, the elegant feel that she brings, it is beautiful to watch.”

Accolades (pre-Utah)

  • 2020 U.S. Olympic Team alternate
  • Four-year member of USA National Team (2017-21)
  • Two-time World Champion as Team USA member

Grace McCallum

Arguably no Utah gymnast has ever arrived in Salt Lake City with the resume of McCallum, an Olympic silver medalist.

McCallum has elite skills on every event and should find a way to contribute across the board as a freshman.

“Grace is well rounded on all four events,” Soloski said. “Bars stand out though. She has elite skills, skills that fans have never seen from a Utah gymnast.”

Accolades (pre-Utah)

  • Member of silver medal-winning 2020 U.S. Olympic Team
  • Four-year member of USA National Team (2018-21)
  • Two-time World Champion as Team USA member

Amelie Morgan

Morgan might be the biggest unknown for Utah fans, simply because she competed for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics.

That team made history and won the bronze medal over the summer, and Morgan’s experience with elite gymnastics is expected to only help her, particularly on bars and beam.

“She is incredible on beam,” Soloski said. “She has really cool skills and great performance quality. She is a competitor. She is so calm and collected up there.”

Accolades (pre-Utah)

  • Member of bronze medal-winning Team Great Britain at 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • British National Team member

Sage Thompson

Thompson is the least heralded freshman in Utah’s impressive class, but already she has made herself invaluable.

A lock in Utah’s bars lineup, Thompson might have the most eye-catching routine of any Red Rock.

“Sage is exquisite on bars,” Soloski said. “She has incredible execution and a really interesting and unique set of skills. She is really exciting to me, personally.”

Accolades (pre-Utah)

  • 2019 Junior Olympic uneven bars national champion
  • Three-time Junior Olympic National Championships qualifier (2017-2019)