Here are the teams that stand between Utah and another trip to the NCAA gymnastics championships
The postseason bracket was revealed Monday morning and Utah will compete in the Los Angeles Regional against top teams like UCLA and Auburn.
For Utah gymnastics this season, the road to Fort Worth, Texas, and the NCAA gymnastics championships will run through Los Angeles, California.
The compete and official postseason bracket for the 2023 national collegiate women’s gymnastics championships was officially unveiled Monday morning by the NCAA and as expected, the No. 5-ranked Red Rocks will compete in the Los Angeles Regional.
(There are four regionals in total and this season they are in L.A., as well as Norman, Oklahoma; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Denver, Colorado).
Joining Utah in California will be No. 4 UCLA, No. 12 Auburn, No. 14 Missouri, No. 20 Stanford, No. 21 Southern Utah, Washington, BYU and Boise State.
NCAA regionals are marked by three days competition and ultimately the top two finishers in each regional will advance to the national championships.
The first day of competition consists of a play-in meet. In L.A., BYU and Boise State will battle for the right to advance.
The second day of regional competition includes two four-team meets — Utah will compete against Auburn, Southern Utah and Washington — and the top two finishers in each those meets will advance to the regional final.
In the last day of competition, there is one four-team meet — the regional final — and the top two finishers will advance to nationals.
A record 47th consecutive berth in the national championships is on the line for Utah.
Here is a brief look at the team’s that stand between the Red Rocks and another shot at a national championship:
No. 4 UCLA Bruins
The Red Rocks are more than a little familiar with the rival Bruins, having competed against UCLA twice this season, most recently at the Pac-12 gymnastics championships.
UCLA event rankings
Balance beam — No. 5
Floor exercise — No. 1
Uneven bars — No. 5
Vault — No. 11
The Bruins are the higher seed — and regional hosts — but the Utes have defeated UCLA in both meetings this year, in a regular season dual meet in Salt Lake City and at the Maverik Center in West Valley City at the Pac-12 championships.
UCLA is one of the hottest teams in the country, though, and boasts some of the best all-around gymnasts in all of college gymnastics, namely Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles (No. 2 in the all-around) and former No. 1 overall recruit Selena Harris (No. 6 in the all-around).
UCLA narrowly lost to Utah at the Pac-12 championships and will now compete at home in Pauley Pavilion.
No. 12 Auburn Tigers
Upended by injuries — most notably a late season non-gymnastics related ailment for Olympic champion Sunisa Lee — Auburn has taken a step back this year after making it to the Final Four in 2022.
Auburn event rankings
Balance beam — No. 16
Floor exercise — No. 13
Uneven bars — No. 10
Vault — No. 12
The Tigers remain a genuine threat, however, particularly if Lee returns to competition, but also due to seniors Cassie Stevens (No. 19 in the all-around and No. 8 on vault) and Derrian Gobourne (No. 16 on floor and No. 30 on vault) among others.
Simply put, Auburn has talent and has scored in the mid to high 197’s multiple times this season, though the Tigers haven’t broken the 198 mark yet in 2023.
Auburn will compete against Utah at least once at regionals — most likely twice — and on paper appears to be the team with the most potential of springing an upset.
No. 14 Missouri Tigers
Missouri was one of the biggest surprises in college gymnastics a season ago, as the Tigers caught fire in the postseason and parlayed that into a berth at the national championships.
Missouri event rankings
Balance beam — No. 11
Floor exercise — No. 14
Uneven bars — No. 18
Vault — No. 21
Missouri hasn’t been that team this season, only scoring in the mid-to-high 197’s once, but with Sienna Schreiber (No. 39 in the all-around), Helen Hu (No. 9 on beam, No. 31 on bars) and Jocelyn Moore (No. 5 on vault), the Tigers have enough talent to make life difficult for UCLA in the regional semifinals.
There is potential, albeit less than that of Auburn, for Missouri to challenge both UCLA and Utah in the regional final, if all three teams make it that far.
No. 20 Stanford Cardinal
Similar to Missouri, Stanford had surprising success in the postseason in 2022, advancing from the play-in meet all the way to the regional final.
Stanford event rankings
Balance beam — No. 14
Floor exercise — No. 26
Uneven bars — No. 13
Vault — No. 30
The Cardinal were expected to build upon that success this season, but didn’t quite manage it.
Still, Stanford has scored in the mid-to-high 197’s multiple times, including a season-high 197.575 in a loss to Oregon State in late Feb.
The Cardinal underachieved at the Pac-12 championships, finishing in last place with a 195.875, but Stanford has multiple high-level gymnasts in Brenna Neault (No. 30 in the all-around) and Chloe Widner (No. 18 on bars and No. 28 on beam).
Stanford has definite potential to upset Missouri in the regional semifinals.
No. 21 Southern Utah Flippin’ Birds
Arguably one of the most successful “small schools” in women’s college gymnastics, Southern Utah may have just completed its best season ever.
Southern Utah event rankings
Balance beam — No. 18
Floor exercise — No. 22
Uneven bars — No. 25
Vault — No. 22
The Flippin’ Birds won their first ever Mountain Rim Gymnastics conference championship and senior Karley McClain was named the MRGC Gymnast of the Year and Floor Specialist of the Year (head coach Scott Bauman was named the 2023 Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Coach of the Year).
SUU rose to as high as No. 16 in the Road to National rankings this season and consistently scored in the high 196’s, breaking into the 197 range twice, in wins over BYU and Utah State.
McClain is the headliner (No. 34 in the all-around and No. 25 on floor), but the Flippin’ Birds have multiple gymnasts ranked in the top 50 on events and if either Utah or Auburn make significant mistakes, SUU has the potential to take advantage in the regional semifinals.
Washington wasn’t one of the best Pac-12 teams this season, but the Huskies have shown some upset potential.
Washington event rankings
Balance beam — No. 24
Floor exercise — No. 34
Uneven bars — No. 26
Vault — No. 28
Specifically, the team recorded a season-high 197.250 in a loss to Arizona State in late February.
Washington tied for sixth place at the Pac-12 championships — with Arizona — and has talent, most notably Skylar Killough-Wilhelm (No. 44 in the all-around and No. 31 on beam) Amara Cunningham (No. 42 on floor) and Deja Chambliss (No. 35 on vault).
It would likely take something near a Herculean performance in the regional semifinals to finish in the top two, given the presence of Utah, Auburn and SUU, but it also isn’t an impossibility that Washington could advance to the regional final.
After competing at the top of the MRGC for years and boasting multiple All-Americans, BYU took a step back this season. The Cougars struggled early in the season, especially, in the Super 16 meet in Las Vegas and at the Best of Utah in West Valley.
BYU event rankings
Balance beam — No. 29
Floor exercise — No. 36
Uneven bars — No. 29
Vault — No. 32
Over the course of the year, though, BYU gradually improved and the Cougars enter the postseason coming off a second place finish at the MRGC championships.
Elease Rollins (No. 28 on beam) is the headliner, though Rebekah Bean Ripley may be the more recognizable name, given her viral floor routine.
BYU has not scored in the 197 range this season, making a run at regionals more than a long shot, but the Cougars have beaten their play-in opponent — Boise State — two out of three meetings this year.
Boise State Broncos
Like BYU, Boise State took a step back this season, going from a perennial MRGC title contender to a mid-level team.
Boise State event rankings
Balance beam — No. 25
Floor exercise — No. 44
Uneven bars — No. 38
Vault — No. 28
The Broncos have two gymnasts ranked in the top 50 on an event — Emily Lopez (No. 14 on bars) and Courtney Blackson (No. 29 on bars) but haven’t scored higher than a 196.525 this season, which came in a win at Southern Utah in late February.
A play-in team, along with BYU, Boise State could advance to the regional semifinals — it is almost a toss-up between the Broncos and the Cougars — but anything more than that would be a major surprise.