FORT WORTH, Texas — Sixteen Utah gymnasts have won individual NCAA titles over the years, stars like Missy Marlowe, Megan McCunniff (Marsden), Theresa Kulikowski, Ashley Postell, Georgia Dabritz and MyKayla Skinner, to name a few.

Two Red Rocks on the current 2023 squad — Maile O’Keefe and Jaedyn Rucker — have won individual NCAA titles too, O’Keefe on bars and floor (2021) and Rucker on vault (2022).

Individual NCAA champions are determined by the scores earned during the semifinals of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, meaning whichever gymnasts score the highest over the course of Thursday’s two semifinal meets will be NCAA champs.

Utah is slated to compete in the evening semifinal in Fort Worth, Texas (7 p.m. MDT on ESPN2) and the Red Rocks now know exactly what scores they need to beat to have at least a chance of winning national titles, after the conclusion of the first semifinal between Cal, Denver, Florida and LSU.

Scores to beat

  • All-around — 39.6875 (recorded by LSU’s Haleigh Bryant).
  • Balance beam — 9.9500 (recorded by Stanford’s Chloe Widner).
  • Floor exercise — 9.9625 (recorded by Florida’s Leanne Wong and LSU’s Aleah Finnegan).
  • Uneven bars — 9.9500 (recorded by Florida’s Trinity Thomas).
  • Vault — 9.9250 (recorded by Denver’s Lynnzee Brown and Boise State’s Courtney Blackson).

Rucker has a chance to become the first Utah gymnast since Elaine Alfano in 1983 to win the national title on vault in consecutive seasons.

The last Red Rock to repeat as an individual NCAA champion on the same event was Summer Reid on balance beam in 1996 and 1997.

O’Keefe has a chance to become only the fifth Utah gymnast ever to win at least three individual national titles in their career.

When it comes to the team competition, the results in the first semifinal don’t affect Utah.

LSU and Florida finished first and second in the afternoon semifinal, securing their spots in Saturday’s national championship meet, the Four on the Floor.

The Tigers finished with a score of 197.4750, followed by the Gators with a 197.4000. Cal finished third overall with a 196.9125, while Denver came in fourth with a 196.5000.

For Utah to join LSU and Florida in the national championship meet, the Red Rocks must finish first or second in the evening semifinal, which incudes Oklahoma, UCLA and Kentucky.

Red Rocks on the air

NCAA women’s gymnastics championships semifinal

Who: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Utah, No. 5 UCLA. No. 7 Kentucky
When: Thursday, 7 p.m. MDT
Where: Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas (14,000 capacity)
Livestream: ESPN+ (individual apparatus feeds)
Radio: ESPN 700

The Red Rocks haven’t won a national title since 1995, but there is optimism that the program is trending in that direction.

“We are still trying to figure that out,” Utah head coach Tom Farden told the Deseret News. “Super pleased in 2021, going in as No. 6 and coming in third. Last year, coming in No. 4 and coming out third. The greedy coach in you wants a little more and we did leave some things out there. It is a process and I will fully admit that we are working diligently on figuring out the right formula to peak.

“We are figuring it out. Last year was the first time Utah scored a 198 in the postseason. We are figuring it out. We are getting closer. You can see us being intentional. Inching things along. I am a little bit of a mad scientist with that. I don’t have any national championships so I am trying to figure it out. We are working on it.”