No. 3 Utah (5-1, 197.000) vs. No. 16 Arizona State (2-2, 195.794)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m. MST
Venue: Desert Financial Arena (14,198 capacity), Tempe, Arizona
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Livestream: Pac-12 Networks Live
Series: Utah has defeated Arizona State 78 out of 95 tries and is 16-8-1 all-time in Tempe. The Red Rocks have been particularly dominant of late, having won the last 27 matchups including a 197.050-194.300 victory at home last year. Utah swept all event titles in that win, led by Alexia Burch on vault, Cristal Isa on bars, Emilie LeBlanc on beam and Abby Paulson on floor (she shared the title with Isa). Maile O’Keefe won the all-around with a 39.225.
For Utah: The Red Rocks had one of the best meets by any team in the country this season in the win over Washington, highlighted by O’Keefe’s perfect 10 on beam. Now they need to do it again, this time on the road. Utah has yet to record a great road score this year and will need to count two road scores as part of the formula that determines national qualifying score (NQS). With only one more road meet this season — at Oregon State on March 5 — the Red Rocks cannot afford to be less than great in Tempe.
For Arizona State: At 2-2 overall, and 1-1 in the Pac-12, Arizona State has had something of a gauntlet of a schedule this season, with meets against No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 9 UCLA, No. 12 BYU and Oregon State. The Sun Devils defeated both the Cougars and Beavers, but came up short against the Sooners and Bruins. Both the loses came on the road, however, and ASU has a chance to establish itself as a legitimate Pac-12 title challenger with a great meet against Utah.
For Utah: O’Keefe has all but assured that she will be the most important Utah gymnast this season. Ranked No. 5 nationally in the all-around, and now a two-time Pac-12 gymnast of the week, O’Keefe will be the headliner in nearly every Utah meet going forward. Senior Sydney Soloski. meanwhile, has won three consecutive floor titles, the latest with a career-high 9.975, and is ranked No. 14 in the country on that event. Other gymnasts who’ve come on recently include Paulson, who arguably had the most complete meet of her Utah career against Washington, and Burch, who has consistently led the Red Rocks’ vault rotation.
For Arizona State: The Sun Devils are led by sophomore Hannah Scharf. Scharf won her third-straight all-around title last weekend with a 39.375, and is the No. 14-ranked gymnast in the nation in the all-around. Another gymnast to watch is senior Cairo Leonard-Baker. An All-American, Leonard-Baker has been a standout for the Sun Devils from the moment she arrived in Tempe. This season, she boasts the highest score of any ASU gymnast on bars, a 9.875.
Utah was scheduled to travel to Palo Alto Feb. 15 to take on the Stanford Cardinal in what would have been Stanford’s season opener, but the meet was canceled Monday to ensure that the Cardinal gymnasts have adequate training time prior to competition. Due to Santa Clara County restrictions regarding indoor sports, Stanford had only just barely returned to indoor training, on Jan. 27.
With the meet’s cancelation, Utah will have a bye week ahead of its Feb. 19 showdown with rival UCLA.
Jan. 9 — vs. No. 12 BYU, No. 15 Southern Utah and No. 23 Utah State (Best of Utah)
Jan. 17 — at No. 5 Oklahoma
Jan. 23 — vs. Arizona
Jan. 30 — vs. Washington
Feb. 6 — at No. 16 ASU (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Feb. 15 — BYE
Feb. 19 — vs. No. 9 UCLA (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Feb. 26 — vs. No. 19 California (7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
March 5 — at Oregon State (TBD)
March 12 — vs. No. 23 Utah State (7 p.m., TBD)
March 20 — Pac-12 championships (TBD)
All times MST