SALT LAKE CITY — Fresh off its Pac-12 championship title and season-high score (197.925), the Utah gymnastics team looks to keep its momentum rolling. The Red Rocks learned where their next stop is on Monday during the NCAA’s regional selection show. Utah is headed to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for its regional showdown on April 1 at 3 p.m. MDT.
The fourth-ranked Red Rocks will be joined by No. 9 Denver, No. 16 Cal, No. 21 Auburn, Arkansas and Central Michigan. Utah already has wins against Denver and Cal this year.
“We’re excited for our next challenge ahead, especially coming off a great meet at Pac-12s,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden.
“It is a second-peak for us right now. I feel like we had some really good meets leading up to UCLA (in mid-February), which was a magnificent night, but then we had a little lull. We are healthy now, and have changed some things up so other good things are happening. The conference championship was a good example of these good things.”
Utah won its regional last year in Salt Lake City, but then failed to advance to the Super Six at the NCAA championships. The Red Rocks have made 41-straight national championship appearances, and will need to finish in the top two at the regional to advance again.
Pac-12 awards, Skinner snub
It remains unclear why the Pac-12 coaches did not select freshman MyKayla Skinner as gymnast of the year. Skinner dominated the gymnast of the week honors all season long, while leading the league with a national No. 2 all-around ranking. She also won 37 events, recorded two 10.0’s on the floor and was a perfect 44-44 in routines.
“We’re frustrated that MyKayla wasn’t selected gymnast or freshman of the year,” said Farden. “We feel at the Pac-12 championships she proved again she was the best all-around gymnast in the conference. But we have no control over what is voted on by the coaches and have got to move on.”
Oregon State’s Kaytianna McMillan was awarded gymnast of the year. McMillan has had an outstanding year as well with a No. 9 all-around ranking, 24 event titles and a 10.0 on the bars.
UCLA’s Peng-Peng Lee was named specialist of the year, while her teammate Kyla Ross earned freshman/newcomer of the year. Oregon State’s Madeline Gardiner was scholar-athlete of the year, and Washington’s Elise Rey was named coach of the year.
Around the state
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All four of Utah’s gymnastics teams qualified for NCAA regionals. Brigham Young and No. 24 Utah State are headed to Seattle. They will battle No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 13 Washington and Stanford.
Southern Utah, No. 18, will compete in Morgantown, West Virginia. It is joined by No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Michigan, No. 20 George Washington, No. 23 West Virginia and Kent State.
“We are proud all four teams are in the next round,” said Farden. “Our state is rich is gymnastics history and it’s a lot of fun to see everyone moving on. Also, we have great clubs in Utah so there is a lot of local talent driving teams.”