A few weeks ago, way too early prognostications for the 2023 college gymnastics season argued that Utah should be considered one of the preeminent national title contenders in the country.
The Red Rocks might now be the favorite.
On Tuesday morning, Utah announced the addition of Michigan transfer Abby Brenner.
An All-American and key part of the Wolverines’ 2021 national championship team, Brenner will compete one season for the Red Rocks as a graduate transfer (Brenner has elected to take advantage of the NCAA rule that has enabled athletes to compete for a fifth season due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“We are very excited to have Abby join our program,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said in a statement. “We believe her taking a fifth year speaks volumes about her love for gymnastics.
“Coming to us with an undergraduate degree in hand is rare, but we are thankful for the University of Utah and (the) attractive master’s programs it can offer. We are confident that her personality and gymnastics will be a fantastic addition and that she will transition into the program effortlessly!”
What kind of gymnast is Michigan transfer Abby Brenner?
Brenner was an All-American gymnast at Michigan (on vault), and a three-time All-Big Ten selection.
She was a three-event specialist during the four years she spent in Ann Arbor, competing on floor exercise, the uneven bars and vault.
While with the Wolverines, Brenner won three Big Ten regular-season championships, two Big Ten championships, advanced to the NCAA championships three times and won the 2021 NCAA national title.
She has recorded career highs of 9.975 on vault and 9.95 on both bars and floor.
Other items of note from Brenner’s tenure at Michigan include:
- She was a WCGA regular-season All-American on vault (2020) after finishing ninth in the nation with a 9.910 NQS.
- She earned first-team All-Big Ten honors her first two seasons as a Wolverine and earned second-team honors this past season.
- During the 2022 season, Brenner competed on bars in every meet and scored a 9.90 or better eight times.
- She is a two-time Big Ten Specialist of the Week.
- She has seven career wins (five on vault and one apiece on bars and floor) and has scored a 9.90 or higher 26 times in her career.
- Brenner was also a two-time team captain for the Wolverines.
What does Abby Brenner’s addition mean for Utah gymnastics?
Brenner’s greatest strength — arguably — is vault and in 2021 she was a key piece in Michigan’s top-ranked vault lineup.
In her four years as a Wolverine, Michigan never ranked lower than No. 6 nationally as a team on vault and twice was the top vault team in the country.
Brenner competes a Yurchenko 1.5, arguably the most common vault with a 10.0 start value.
Given vault has been Utah’s weakest event the last two seasons, Brenner’s addition immediately improves the outlook of Utah’s vault lineup, particularly in light of the departures of Alexia Burch and Cammy Hall.
Brenner is more than just a vault specialist, however, and will be in contention to make the Red Rocks’ bars and floor lineups as well, after being a regular on both events at Michigan.
Utah has an opening on floor after the graduation of Sydney Soloski, while the Red Rocks are expected to return their complete bars lineup from 2022.
What are Abby Brenner’s ties to Utah?
A Maple Grove, Minnesota, native, Brenner was club teammates with rising Utah senior Abby Paulson at Twin City Twisters in Champlin, Minnesota.
Then, after moving to Texas and switching gyms — to Metroplex Gymnastics — Brenner became teammates with rising Utah junior Jaylene Gilstrap.
Brenner earned her undergraduate degree in sport management at Michigan, and is a two-time WCGA Scholastic All-American and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. She was the 2021 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, as well as the 2021 and 2022 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner.