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Tom Farden’s Coach of the Year honors lead Utah gymnastics’ big postseason award haul from Pac-12 Conference

Utah heads coach Tom Farden celebrates Alexia Burch’s vault routine during the Arizona State and University of Utah gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.
Utah heads coach Tom Farden celebrates Alexia Burch’s vault routine 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 — If postseason awards are an indication, the Utah gymnastics program is doing just fine after one campaign without pioneers Greg and Megan Marsden in charge.

A day after five gymnasts were named All-Americans, Tom Farden, who just completed his first year as sole head coach of the program following the retirement of Megan Marsden, was named Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year on Wednesday. Additionally, Mountain View High alum Kim Tessen was named the conference’s Specialist of the Year, and eight gymnasts received all-conference honors.

The accolades came on the heels of Utah finishing the abbreviated 2019 season ranked No. 4 in the country and having won the Pac-12 regular season title. Win-loss record doesn’t necessarily matter in collegiate gymnastics with the way teams are ranked, but Utah finished 11-0 for its first undefeated season since 1993.

Farden’s award marks the first time since 2015 that a Utah coach has won top honors from the Conference of Champions, while Tessen’s is the first for a Utah gymnast since 2016.

A senior, Tessen had just two total event victories in her career entering the season but collected a team-high 10 in 2020. She finished No. 9 in the nation on both vault and bars to lead Utah and scored a perfect 10 on vault in what ended up being her final collegiate meet, becoming one of just six gymnasts in the NCAA to post a perfect score on vault this season.

In total, she tallied four event victories in 2020 on vault, four on bars and two on floor.

Named to the Pac-12 First Team were Tessen, Cristal Isa (bars and beam), Alexia Burch (vault), Abby Paulson (beam), Maile O’Keefe (beam) and Sydney Soloski (floor).

Missy Reinstadtler (bars) and Adrienne Randall (beam) received honorable mention from the Pac-12.