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Jillian Hoffman, Abby Paulson and Missy Reinstadtler among Utah gymnasts pushing for spots in lineups

The competition for lineup spots is ongoing, with the Utes going at least nine-deep on every event

The Red Rocks cheer on Kim Tessen as she performs in the vault during the Arizona State and University of Utah gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. 
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Amidst the career success had by many of Utah’s gymnasts in the Red Rocks’ victory over Arizona State, it would be easy to forget that a pair of exhibition routines were also performed last Friday night.

Senior Missy Reinstadtler competed on balance beam, while freshman Jillian Hoffman made her Utah debut with an effort on the uneven bars. The meet prior, at the Best of Utah, it was freshman Abby Paulson who competed in exhibition, on bars.

Those exhibition routines, and who competed them, provide a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes battles for lineup spots that are ongoing up on the hill. Utah goes at least nine deep on every event and while lineups have remained the same for consecutive weeks that could be subject to change going forward.

“We have gymnasts in the wings,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “People are coming along.”

So how does it break down by event?

Utah’s Cristal Isa lands her dismount on the beam during the Arizona State and University of Utah gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

On vault, Utah has ridden with Sydney Soloski, Cammy Hall, Reinstadtler, Maile O’Keefe, Alexia Burch and Kim Tessen. Not far behind, though, are Cristal Isa, Emilie LeBlanc and Hoffman, a group led by Isa.

“Cristal is right there,” said Farden. “I think Cristal would get the first shot, if someone stubbed their toe or got sick.”

LeBlanc, for her part, has had a competition-ready vault since the season opener and Hoffman, while a newcomer to the competition, vaulted in practice yesterday after suffering a bruised foot a month ago.

The bars lineup, meanwhile, is even more competitive.

Outside of the established lineup of LeBlanc, Isa, Hunter Dula, O’Keefe, Reinstadtler and Tessen, both Hoffman and Paulson are vying for an opportunity.

“We have Jillian and Abby fighting for a spot,” said Farden. “Jillian debuted a little exhibition routine and I thought she did a really nice job. She stuck her dismount. And Abby scored a 9.800 on exhibition the meet before. Alexia is right there too and Adrienne (Randall). We have four in the wings on that event.”

The battle for beam is upperclassmen heavy, with Reinstadtler, Tessen and Soloski all working to get into the lineup. Reinstadtler appeared to take a step back in that regard, as she struggled in her exhibition routine, but that isn’t actually the case.

“The outcome wasn’t what Missy was working for, but people just have to trust that the staff was so thoroughly impressed with Missy’s work that week that we put her up in exhibition in front of 15,000,” Farden said. “She just didn’t have her day, but better days are ahead.”

As for floor, both Burch and Hoffman are tweaking their routines, in hopes of breaking through, with Reinstadtler not too far behind.

“We have Lexi, Jill and Missy in the wings,” said Farden. “They are all coming along.”

ROAD TO NATIONALS: Thanks to back-to-back meet scores of 197 or better — Utah recorded a 197.000 at the Best of Utah and a 197.050 against Arizona State — the Red Rocks moved up a spot in the latest national rankings. Utah, with an average team score of 196.825, is ranked No. 4 in the country, behind No. 1 Oklahoma (197.795), No. 2 Florida (197.525) and No. 3 UCLA (196.933). Rounding out the top ten are No. 5 Denver, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Alabama, No. 8 Minnesota and Michigan and No. 10 California. Utah is now one of 13 schools to have scored over 197 this year. Only Florida and Oklahoma have scored over 198 in a meet thus far.

A FEW MORE RANKINGS: Only one Red Rock is currently ranked in the top 10 nationally on any event — senior Kim Tessen. Tessen is tied for No. 8 on vault and No. 9 on bars.

Isa, meanwhile, is tied for No. 17 nationally on beam, while sophomore Dula rose in the bars rankings and is tied for No. 21. As a team, Utah is ranked in the top 10 on every event, coming in at No. 5 on vault, No. 5 on beam, No. 6 on floor, and No. 8 on bars.

Red Rocks on the air

No. 4 Utah (5-0, 1-0) at No. 21 Arizona (5-2, 0-1)

McKale Center, Tucson, AZ

Saturday, 2 p.m. MST

Live stream: Pac-12 Plus (will stream for free on the Pac-12 Plus Facebook page)