The best season-opening score for Utah gymnastics since 2005, in a win over Boise State.

Another regular season win at rival UCLA, a fourth straight win over the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion.

Three regular season wins over Stanford, a team that would go on to finish the season as a national semifinalist.

A fourth straight Pac-12 conference championship that included another win over UCLA, plus a victory over Pac-12 regular season champion Cal, eventual national runners-up.

Postseason victories over Big 12 champion Oklahoma, Big Ten champion Michigan State, plus Florida, Alabama and Missouri.

And finally, a third place finish at the 2024 NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, a fourth consecutive for the program.

Utah had a genuine shot at a national title and the Red Rocks are going to revel in that

That was Carly Dockendorf’s first season as the head coach at Utah, which doubled as her first year as a collegiate head coach.

To say it was a success is more than fair. Consider that Dockendorf only became the head coach of the team a week before the Red Rocks Preview in December and rousing success feels like a more appropriate descriptor.

“She has done an amazing job,” junior Amelie Morgan said. “I don’t think anyone could have done it better.”

But what comes next? What will Utah look like under Dockendorf next season? And the one after that? And the one after that?

On paper, the Red Rocks are primed to remain at the top of the sport for some time, despite losing seven routines competed in the national championship meet — three from Maile O’Keefe (balance beam, floor exercise and uneven bars), two from Abby Paulson (beam and floor) and one each from Jaedyn Rucker (vault) and Alani Sabado (bars).

After all, next season Utah will have a trio of seniors — Morgan, Jaylene Gilstrap and Grace McCallum — who have proven themselves at the NCAA level, and in the case of McCallum and Morgan, at the Olympic level as well.

Utah's Grace McCallum competes on the floor exercise during the NCAA women's gymnastics championships in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday, April 20, 2024. | Tony Gutierrez

The junior class of Makenna Smith, Ashley Glynn and Sarah Krump includes an All-American all-around gymnast in Smith and a talented vaulter in Glynn.

The rising sophomore class includes Elizabeth Gantner, Olivia Kennedy, Camie Winger and Ella Zirbes, three of whom showed flashes of greatness as freshmen. Gantner, Winger and Zirbes all competed for Utah in the national championship meet, gaining invaluable experience.

“It is amazing that (the) freshmen got a chance to compete,” Morgan said. “On some teams it is hard for freshmen to get into lineups. They have been incredible for us this season, they’ve helped so much and we wouldn’t be here (in the national championship) without them. This (competing for a national championship) is just a learning experience. This is their first time being out here and they have many more years to come. For them, it is great expereince and learning curve. Each of them can take something from it. I’m glad they got the experience.”

The incoming freshmen class, meanwhile, is replete with talented gymnasts, including the top recruit in the country in Avery Neff, plus Canadian Olympic hopeful Clara Raposo, British national team member Poppy-Grace Stickler and five-star gymnast Zoe Johnson.

It is a stacked class that has the potential to contribute immediately in a significant way on practically every event.

Utah will have a talented, albeit young, roster next season, but Dockendorf admits that she doesn’t know exactly what the program will look like going forward. Not yet anyway. That is in part because she hardly knows who she is as a head coach yet. Which is only fair given she hasn’t been a head coach for even six months yet.

“Honestly, I just took this program over five months ago,” she said on the floor of Dickies Arena, following the national championship meet. “I’m really excited to be able to continue to grow with the program and grow with these athletes.”

Utah's trajectory changed with the arrival of Maile O'Keefe, Abby Paulson and Jaedyn Rucker

Dockendorf continued: “I’m excited to have a summer and to have a preseason with, obviously, a different leadership style. I’m excited to have a full year (leading this team).”

Dockendorf has some immediate action items too. Arguably the most pressing is that she has to fill out her coaching staff. Utah got by with only three coaches this season — Dockendorf, Jimmy Pratt and Myia Hambrick — due to the late departure of former head coach Tom Farden, but that isn’t a tenable long-term situation.

Filling out Utah’s staff could prove an even bigger task if Pratt or Hambrick elect to leave Utah for another opportunity. Hambrick has already been mentioned as a possible candidate (as an assistant coach) at LSU, her alma mater, or at Georgia, the flagship program in her home state. (Georgia recently fired its entire coaching staff, including longtime coach Courtney Kupets Carter.)

Recruiting is an ever present need in college sports — the lifeblood of every program — and Dockendorf will have to figure out how she wants to approach attracting future Red Rocks. Right now, Utah has two commitments for its 2025 class in Sage Curtis and Bailey Stroud but that is it, and recruiting for the 2026 class will begin in a hurry.

That is just the beginning, too. The demands on the head coach of a major gymnastics program have never been greater. There are competition schedules to be made, training schedules to be developed, and well the list goes on and on.

There are a lot of unknowns going forward for Utah gymnastics. That is just the reality given Dockendorf’s newness leading the program.

She is certain about one thing, though.

“It is going to be different,” Dockendorf said. “It was different these last five months and it is going to continue to grow. It is going to be a change.”

Utah Red Rocks’ Grace McCallum fist-bumps University of Utah gymnastics head coach Carly Dockendorf before competing on the beam during a gymnastics meet against Stanford and Utah State University at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 15, 2024. The Utah Red Rocks won. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News