SALT LAKE CITY — Stephanie McAllister puts the rock in the Red Rocks. She puts the smiles on their faces as well.
"She's been our rock this year, especially since Kyndal (Robarts, knee injury) went down," says Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden, whose 6-1 team finally hits the road again Friday when it meets 1-10 Utah State in the Smith Spectrum.
Utah is coming off four straight home meets; the Aggies off four straight away meets. USU has a two-meet weekend, traveling to Boise State Sunday at 2 p.m.
"Stephanie had shown that potential the first couple meets before Kyndal went down," Marsden said, "but she has been the person that was in there and has been our rock and extremely consistent all year."
The Utes may need her even more tonight as all-arounder Corrie Lothrop aggravated an ankle injury this week and will likely be out. Jacq Johnson will go all-around, and Gael Mackie is scheduled for three events to fill some of Lothrop's vacancies.
McAllister has scored 39.30 or better in all but the Utes' season opener. Two weeks ago, she had personal-best scores on vault (9.85), bars (9.925), floor (9.90) and all-around (39.415), and last week, she scored 39.30 with another 9.90 floor and a career-high vault of 9.875, even though she was sick all week.
She was still sick this week, but she didn't let that hinder her or the team — because her other contribution to the Utes is an upbeat nature.
"I think I've always been a pretty perpetually happy person," said the gymnast nicknamed "Happy."
"She's fun to be around," said Marsden. "You want to be around her.
"I can count the number of times that she hasn't come into the gym with a smile on her face and bouncy and happy on one hand. That is her."
It's a family trait. "Yeah, I would say I'm my mother's daughter, that's for sure," said McAllister, who is from Indianapolis.
She also just enjoys gymnastics. "I'm having so much fun. I'm just happy to be out there. And, I mean, this year has been so much fun with this team, so really, it's been a fun year. So it's easy to be happy," she said.
She said the team emphasis on improving floor execution helped her finally improve her career high in that event after reaching 9.85 about a dozen times.
"We've worked on making our legs tighter on leaps and just basically cleaning them up, and I think that's helped everyone. It's just positioning and little things. I haven't made any big changes," she said.
"I just want to continue to progress and not be content, because I think my leaps can still improve, and I can continue to work on landings, and I don't think I've plateaued or anything.
"It feels really clean," she said of her last two floor routines. "My landings, I feel like I know where I am. I'm confident when I'm doing my passes, so I do think that I feel better. I just feel like I'm totally in control."
The Utes hope to have that feeling as a team tonight, needing a strong road score to give them a good Regional Qualifying Score. The RQS — an average of six meets, at least three on the road — is used for ranking and critical postseason seeding.
The Aggies, coached by Jeff Richards, in his third year, are having their Senior Night and will honor their two top all-arounders, seniors Lyndsie Boone (38.85 best) and Jackie Dillon (38.65). USU is coming off its season-best score, 193.60, in a loss to Boise State in Logan last week.
Utah (6-1) at Utah State (1-10)
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Smith Spectrum, Logan
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz remain in...
- High school boys soccer: Lehi edges...
- BYU football: Fan-developed software gives...
- Results from Tuesday's high school softball,...
- The offseason status of NFL players with Utah...
- Doug Robinson: It's about time golf took a...
- Utes football recruiting: Polynesian players...
- Utah high school updated tournament pairings...
- High school baseball: 5A, 4A state... 56
- Bodyguards allegedly beat up 2 fans who... 19
- Dick Harmon: BYU coach Mike Littlewood... 15
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz... 15
- Utah State football: New coach Matt... 11
- If hired, Jeff Hornacek will face same... 10
- BYU football: Fan-developed software... 8
- Former Jazzman Thurl Bailey named... 7