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Jaedyn Rucker is a national champion

Rucker won the individual national title on vault at the NCAA gymnastics championship on Thursday

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Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker competes on the floor against ASU. Rucker is an individual national champ on vault.

In this file photo, Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker competes on the floor during the gymnastics meet against Arizona State University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Rucker won an individual national championship on vault Thursday at the NCAA gymnastics championships.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jaedyn Rucker is a NCAA national champion.

The Utah gymnast won the individual national title on vault Thursday at Dickies Arena during the semifinals of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championship.

Rucker scored a 9.9625 on the event, the best score by any gymnast in either semifinal session.

Rucker is now the fifth Utah gymnast to ever win a vault individual national title, joining Elaine Alfano (1982, 1983 and 1985), Megan Marsden (1984), Kristen Kenoyer (1992) and MyKayla Skinner (2018).

Rucker is the second individual champion on the current Utah roster, joining Maile O’Keefe, who won a pair of titles in 2021 (on bars and floor).

All told, 16 different Utah gymnasts have won a total of 30 individual NCAA titles.

Rucker’s winning vault was the standout in one of Utah’s best rotations on the event this season, her height and distance especially separating her effort from the rest of the competition.

“I felt really confident because last year I did the same thing,” Rucker said, referencing the vault she competed during the 2021 national final.

“I knew the setup (at Dickies Arena) and I thought I could go out and do it. I already knew how.”

Rucker added that her motivation was her team, not any individual accolades she might garner.

“I love doing it for my team,” she said. “I have them in my mind every time — just go out there and nail it.”

Rucker’s career got off to a slow start with Utah after she suffered a season-ending ACL tear prior to her freshman season.

Since returning from that injury, though, she has established herself as one of Utah’s most dynamic gymnasts on both floor and vault.

Thursday’s championship performance was only further evidence.

Missouri’s Amari Celestine finished second on vault with a 9.9500, while Oklahoma’s Allie Stern finished third with a 9.9375.