Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — One could say that being a member of the Utah gymnastics team means being a bit spoiled.
After all, the Red Rocks have qualified for 31 straight NCAA Championships and have advanced to the Super Six finals every year since 2000 — and they are the only team to do both. They also averaged over 14,000 fans at home this season to win their 28th gymnastics national attendance title.
"I totally do feel spoiled," said senior Stephanie McAllister. "I'm sure other programs are a bit jealous because we do have so much support — an average of 14,000 fans is just awesome, and I'll never forget what it feels like to compete in the Huntsman Center."
"Ever since I've been here we've made it to the Super Six," said senior Kyndal Robarts. "We are part of a good program with talented girls, and we've been fortunate to make it to nationals every year. It's cool to be a part of the Utah legacy."
McAllister, Robarts and Cortni Beers wrap up their Red Rock careers this weekend at the NCAA Championships. The three have seen as many ups and downs as one can see with Utah gymnastics, given its success rate.
When Robarts' career began in 2008, Utah was the runner-up for a third straight year. In 2009, McAllister and Beers joined the team that finished third before falling to last place in the Super Six in 2010. In 2011, Robarts went down with a season-ending injury that left an already young Utah team more depleted. But Utah surpassed all expectations by advancing to the Super Six and finishing fifth.
This season has been up again, as the trio of seniors has led a Red Rocks team with 11 underclassmen to a No. 1 ranking for three weeks, a regional title and a second-place Pac-12 finish.
"They've all developed over the years," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden. "Kyndal really started strong and has remained strong throughout her career. Steph started on a couple of events and then became our leader on the floor and strongest all-arounder. Cortni has been hampered by injury, but has found a way to become one of our best competitors on the two events she can consistently compete."
Beers said being a Red Rock has been exciting, and that the team does have expectations for this weekend because of its talent and depth. But all three gymnasts acknowledge they do have a tough semifinal session as the seventh seed, which includes No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 10 Stanford and No. 11 LSU, and will have to hit all 24 routines to move on to the Super Six on Saturday.
"There is another side to it," said Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden. "It's a wonderful program we have built, but the success we have has also created a lot of pressure and the field gets more competitive every year. We are the seventh seed and there are some talented teams."
"You always do have that reminder in the back of your head that no team in Utah's history hasn't made it to nationals," said McAllister. "But we did a good job at regionals of not putting too much pressure on ourselves to advance, and I think if we stay relaxed we will do well this weekend. We have to have fun because we do well when we have fun."
Robarts echoed her teammate, "You never know if you will move on so you do have to have fun and enjoy every moment."
Utah is one of only four teams to win the NCAA Championship, with the last coming in 1995.
Friday, April 20
Group 1, 10 a.m. MT
UCLA, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Utah, Stanford, LSU
Group 2, 4 p.m. MT
Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Oregon St., Ohio St.
* the top three teams from each group advance to Saturday's Super Six at 2 p.m. MT
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