SALT LAKE CITY — Since the moment she arrived at Utah as a freshman in 2017, Alexia Burch has been a contributor for Utah gymnastics.

Her first year up on The Hill she was a regular in the balance beam rotation, hit 8 of 9 routines and earned a high score of 9.90. Last year she was even better, in a much larger role, too. Burch competed in every single meet in 2019, as a set-in-stone member of both the beam and vault rotations, with occasional stints on floor exercise. She hit 27 of 30 routines and recorded a 9.90 in two different meets, on vault against Arizona and on beam against Michigan. 

“She has upped her game in every facet.” — Utah coach Tom Farden.

Burch was solid through those first two seasons, as befits any Utah gymnast, but this year has been different. Where Burch was once good, she has become great. Where she once struggled with consistency, she has become steady. Her formerly solid routines have become great, despite greater difficulty, and her not so solid ones… well you get the point.

Burch has taken a significant leap forward in this, her junior year, a season in which she has set new career-highs on both beam (9.950) and vault (9.950). Through seven meets, she has already scored a 9.90 or better more times (4) than she had in the previous two seasons combined (3). She has become an invaluable part of the Red Rocks’ vault lineup and is a key component in Utah’s elite beam team that ranks No. 3 in the country.

Utah’s Alexia Burch performs on 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

“She is doing a lot of great things for us,” teammate and fellow junior Sydney Soloski said. 

“She has upped her game in every facet,” added head coach Tom Farden.

Her evolution as a gymnast comes as a surprise to few, if any, inside Utah’s program.

As it turns out, Burch might be the hardest worker any of them have ever seen. Throw in the fact that becoming a Red Rock was her dream — the dream — the one you had as a kid that superseded anything and everything else, the one where you were an astronaut, POTUS or a princess, and it only makes sense.

“Her level of care for being in this program, her love for this program is really second to none,” said Farden. “Lexi fell in love with our program as a camper when she was little. I believe she is living her dream. Sometimes you get a little more out of those athletes, so I am not surprised by anything that Lexi has done this year, or that she will continue to do for this program.”

About No. 13 Washington

Head Coach: Elisa Ray-Statz 

Record: 6-1-1, 4-0-1 Pac-12

Notes: The Huskies have wins over No. 8 Cal and No. 3 UCLA and are 4-0-1 in conference … Have scored above 197 once this year, a season-high 197.225 against Cal … Are led by all-arounder Evanni Roberson, who is ranked No. 15 in the all-around ... Are tied for No. 6 in the nation on floor … Utah assistant coach Carly Dockendorf competed at Washington from 2002-05, where she was an All-America gymnast and pole vaulter ... Former Ute All-American Baely Rowe is Washington’s volunteer assistant coach.

By all accounts this was a leap destined to happen, but Burch always had her enviable work ethic and love for Utah gymnastics. What is different this year is she has conquered, as much as you can, the mental aspect of the sport.

It is incredibly difficult mentally to be a gymnast. As explained by Soloski, you’re completely alone when competing on an event. A part of a team, sure, as the raucous cheers of teammates will tell you, but when you are competing on a meet you are utterly alone. There is nowhere to hide.

It is one thing to hit routines in practice. To hit them in a meet, that is something else entirely. And through her first two seasons at Utah, Burch didn’t exactly have that part figured out. Now, particularly since the start of February, it would appear she does.

“Everything just kind of clicked into place this year,” said Burch. “I truly believe I am that good and can go 9.90 on every event. I think just belief, that is what clicked.”

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Belief, confidence, self-assuredness; whatever you want you want to call it, Burch has it this season and the Red Rocks are better off for it.

“She has come a really long way,” said Soloski. “I think she sets a precedent for everyone else to follow.”

Red Rocks on the air

No. 4 Utah (197.200) at No. 13 Washington (196.575)

Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, Washington

Sunday, 3 p.m. MST

TV: Pac-12 Networks