Greg and I were talking about Utah joining the conference 15 years ago or so, so we are very excited about this.
SALT LAKE CITY — The fifth-ranked Utah gymnastics team opens its season today (3 p.m. MT) at the John Wooden Center in Los Angeles against No. 1 UCLA.
The meet marks the 10th time (ninth time in the last 10 years) the two teams have opened the season against each other with the home team winning the past three.
Utah grabbed last year's opener, but lost to the Bruins in the NCAA Super Six.
"Neither of us wants to be embarrassed that first meet and both want to have that opportunity to win," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden on starting with UCLA. "I have always felt it's a good way to start the season."
"We have such respect for Utah, and we know they'll be ready. That's why we chose to start with them," said UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field. "This helps our team be better prepared for the start of the season and helps our team to get better focused."
Unfortunately for both coaches, the addition of Utah to the Pac-12 likely means an end to the opening meet to accommodate league scheduling. The tradeoff is the addition of Utah to the league makes the Pac-12 the nation's winningest gymnastics conference.
"Greg and I were talking about Utah joining the conference 15 years ago or so, so we are very excited about this," said Kondos Field.
Besides UCLA and Utah, the Pac-12 has four additional teams ranked in the preseason national top 25, including No. 7 Oregon State, No. 8 Stanford, No. 16 Washington and No. 19 Arizona. Oregon State is the reigning Pac-12 champion. The Beavers, Bruins and Stanford have taken turns as league champion since the first Pac-10 championship meet in 1987.
UCLA and Utah have a combined 12 All-Americans returning this season. Two of Utah's four, Stephanie McAllister and Corrie Lothrop, are expected to go all-around in the meet.
Fans can watch live video streaming on the Bruins' website, uclabruins.com.