Nearly 12,000 fans will fill the stands at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday. Most will be clad in red, with others in variations of blue, orange, purple or maroon.

All will be on hand to watch the best women’s college gymnasts compete in the West.

The Pac-12 gymnastics championships are this weekend and include two four-team meets, one at 1 p.m. MDT, the other at 6 p.m, broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

The afternoon session will feature No. 14 Arizona State, No. 19 Stanford, Washington and Arizona. The night session, meanwhile, includes some of the top teams in the country, including No. 4 UCLA, No. 5 Utah, No. 7 Cal and No. 11 Oregon State.

The team with the highest score, regardless of which session they compete in, will walk away Pac-12 champions, though traditionally teams in the evening session score higher than those in the afternoon.

After two and half months of regular-season competition, the postseason has finally arrived.

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“I always love postseason,” Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker said. “It is what you work for. It is always a fun time.”

This year potentially more so than in any recent season when it comes to the Pac-12 championships.

Between the Bruins, Utes, Bears and Beavers, the Pac-12 has multiple teams that consider themselves national title contenders, or at the very least threats to make it to Fort Worth, Texas, for the NCAA championships in April.

Not only that, all four teams in the evening session tied for the Pac-12 regular-season championship, Utah, Cal and Oregon State for the second consecutive year.

UCLA might be the hottest team in the country right now, with arguably the best all-around gymnast in Olympian Jordan Chiles.

Utah has been a Final Four team back-to-back seasons, and despite the loss of Olympian Grace McCallum, has remained elite, thanks to a deep team that includes multiple NCAA champions (Rucker and Maile O’Keefe).

Over the weekend, Cal became the first program in NCAA women’s gymnastics history to score a pair of 198s over a 48-hour period (in the regular season) and nearly broke the NCAA record for the highest team beam score (49.825).

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As for Oregon State, the Beavers boast Olympic gold medalist Jade Carey, are the highest-scoring team in program history (198.075 in a win over Stanford) and are coming off a Senior Night win over Utah.

“Definitely a really competitive conference this year,” O’Keefe said. “I’m really excited. It will be a really good competition.”

Expect the best from each team, added Rucker. Greatness tends to bring out greatness.

“Every gymnast strives for perfection, but putting the best of the best in the same arena against each other elevates the gymnastics,” she said. “It brings a more competitive environment. That is what makes it fun too. If it was easy (to win conference championships) it would be like ‘Yay, we won.’ If it is competitive and you work for it and then whoever comes out on top, it is a better feeling.”

Who will come out on top on Saturday? Let’s look at the competition.


No. 4 UCLA Bruins

UCLA’s Jordan Chiles competes on the floor exercise during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. | Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

During the last couple of years, UCLA seriously underachieved. Despite being one of the most talented teams in the country — the Bruins had the No. 1-ranked signing class in 2021 and the No. 5-ranked class in 2022 — UCLA failed to qualify for the NCAA championships in consecutive seasons.

That streak should end this year, however. Under first-year coach Janelle McDonald, the Bruins have gotten better and better, scoring above 198 in back-to-back weeks to close out the regular season.

UCLA event rankings


Balance beam — No. 5
Floor exercise — No. 1
Uneven bars — No. 6
Vault — No. 9

In their regular-season finale against Iowa State, the Bruins posted a season-high 198.275, while Chiles was nearly perfect with a nation-best 39.900 in the all-around.

Between Chiles (the No. 2-ranked all-arounder), former No. 1 overall recruit Selena Harris and others, including Margzetta Fraizer and junior Chae Campbell, UCLA has proven capable of competing with just about any team in the country.

“​​I just fully believe that they’re prepared, and I know that they’re just going to show up and enjoy their moment,” McDonald told the Daily Bruin last weekend. “That’s really what this season is about for me, is having a team that loves the sport they’re doing, that shows up for each other and is in it together.”


No. 5 Utah Utes

Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker performs her floor routine at the fourth annual Rio Tinto Best of Utah Meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

No Pac-12 team has been as good or as dominant as Utah in recent seasons.

The Red Rocks have won at least a share of the regular-season conference title four straight years, have won the Pac-12 gymnastics championships in back-to-back seasons, and have won more Pac-12 titles (nine total, five at championships) than any other program.

Entering the year, Utah was seen as one of the top three teams in the country, along with No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 3 Florida, and a genuine threat to win a national title.

Utah event rankings


Balance beam — No. 1
Floor exercise — No. 8
Uneven bars — No. 5
Vault — No. 5

The Red Rocks have had their ups and downs this season, especially after losing McCallum to a hyperextended right knee, but boast the second-highest meet score by any team this season (198.550), have two NCAA champs (O’Keefe and Rucker), both of whom have scored perfect 10s this year, plus Olympic-caliber gymnasts in Amelie Morgan (Olympic bronze medalist) and Kara Eaker (U.S. Olympic alternate).

Health is a concern for Utah, with McCallum sidelined, Eaker having missed two weeks of competition due to concussion protocol and Lucy Stanhope only recently returned from a bruised heel.

The Red Rocks have proven themselves on the biggest stages each of the last two seasons, even though they dropped their regular-season finale at Oregon State.

“We don’t have a lot of time to turn this thing around, so we have to get back in the gym, work hard and head off to Pac-12s and see what happens,” Utah coach Tom Farden said last weekend. “... There is a lot of hope. A lot of hope. Our team continues to find its identity without two of our Olympians. They are not quitting. They are still fighting. You can see this is a team of fighters, so that is encouraging.”


No. 7 Cal Bears

California’s Andi Li completes on the uneven bars during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships in Fort Worth, Texas, Friday, April 16, 2021. | Matt Strasen, Associated Press

Under the direction of co-head coaches Justin Howell and Elizabeth Crandall-Howell, Cal has become a consistently great team that regularly contends in the Pac-12 and nationally.

This season was supposed to be something of a rebuild — College Gym News ranked Cal No. 10 in the preseason — after the Bears graduated a historic senior class and lead assistant coach Janelle McDonald left for UCLA, but instead Cal has remained as good as ever.

Cal event rankings


Balance beam — No. 6
Floor exercise — No. 9
Uneven bars — No. 3
Vault — No. 11

It is possible that the Bears are even better than they have ever been, which is saying something considering they qualified for the NCAA championships in 2021.

Led by four highly ranked all-around gymnasts in junior Andi Li (No. 11 nationally), sophomore Madelyn Williams (No. 20), senior Nevaeh DeSouza (No. 24) and freshman eMjae Frazier (No. 36), Cal lost to only one Pac-12 team this year — Utah in Salt Lake City — has scored over a 198 twice to end the regular season, and has seen gymnasts record the program’s first perfect 10s on floor (Frazier) and beam (sophomore Mya Lauzon).


No. 11 Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State’s Jade Carey competes on the floor exercise during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics championships, Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. | Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

When Jade Carey arrived on campus in Corvallis last winter, everything changed for the Beavers.

In less than two seasons, Carey has helped Oregon State to shares of two Pac-12 regular-season titles, and lifted the Beavers to their best national rankings since the 2017 season.

Carey is the No. 1-ranked all-around gymnast in the country — just ahead of Chiles — and has more perfect 10s than any gymnast this season (three on floor, two on vault, with one apiece on bars and beam).

Oregon State event rankings


Balance beam — No. 3
Floor exercise — No. 6
Uneven bars — No. 18
Vault — No. 15

The Beavers are more than just Carey, too. Senior Madi Dagen, junior Sydney Gonzales and sophomore Lauren Letzsch have helped OSU become a top-three beam team, behind only Utah and reigning national champion Oklahoma.

Oregon State lost to only one Pac-12 team in conference competition this season — Arizona State — and with a win over Utah in the regular-season finale accomplished a long-time goal.

“Everything about today was just so cool,” Carey told The Oregonian last weekend. “To see all the love and support that we get, and beating Utah … it’s something we’ve been really working towards.”


What else is at stake at the Pac-12 championship?

Utah’s Abby Paulson does her beam routine during a gymnastics meet against Arizona at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, on Friday, March 3, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

There is a lot more on the line at the Pac-12 championships than just a conference title. Scores this weekend will help determine seeding for NCAA regionals.

UCLA, which is hosting a regional in Los Angeles this year, could jump to as high as No. 3 in the rankings, which would pit the Bruins against the No. 6, No. 11 and No. 14 teams in the country (the top two teams from each of the four NCAA regionals advance to the NCAA championships).

The Bruins could also fall to as low as No. 5, though.

Utah has an even bigger possible spread, with the chance to improve to No. 3 or fall all the way to No. 7. A score of 198.175 would secure the Red Rocks the No. 5 ranking, which would then mean regional matchups against the No. 4, No. 12 and No. 13 ranked teams.

Cal can only rise in the rankings, as high as No. 5, potentially surpassing both Utah and LSU. With a 198.225, the Bears would move past the Tigers no matter what. Cal would need some help from Utah to jump into the No. 5 position, however.

As for Oregon State, the Beavers could jump as high as No. 8 or fall to No. 13. With a 197.950, the Beavers would clinch, at worst, the No. 11 seed.