Obviously, we dug ourselves in a whole with balance beam and were disappointed with that, but we were pleased that we did three very good events and continued to fight all the way through the end of the meet. —Utah co-head coach Tom Farden
SEATTLE – Utah did all it could to try and overcome a bad start at the Pac-12 gymnastics championships Saturday.
But as good as it was in its final three events, it just wasnt enough as UCLA won with a 197.25. Utah finished tied with Oregon State at 196.925 for second, while California was fourth with a 196.725.
Utah knew it had a hefty feat in drawing beam for its first rotation at the championship. That feat proved to be a roller coaster as Samantha Partyka fell in the lead-off position. The sophomore hadn't fallen in 40 career routines heading into the meet, so the fall was a surprise.
Senior Kailah Delaney tried to get Utah back on track with a 9.85, but then freshman MaKenna Merrell tumbled in the third position to force Utah to count a fall. It was Merrell's first fall of the season in a lineup she's been in and out of, but was back in to replace an injured Maddy Stover.
The Red Rocks closed out the set with three straight hits, including a career-best of 9.95 by Baely Rowe and a 9.9 by Breanna Hughes.
The Red Rocks carried over the momentum from the final two beamers to floor and hit one of its best scores in 49.475. The score was so good it catapulted Utah up to a three-way tie with Oregon State and Cal at 98.25 after two rotations despite the low beam set. UCLA led all teams with a 98.425, and never trailed from that point.
On floor, Utahs first three competitors reeled off career bests as Rowe and Merrell hit 9.9 and Tiffany Lewis earned a 9.925.
The Red Rocks were able to edge past OSU into second place after their best vault set of the year at 49.4. Partyka recorded a 9.9, but it was Hughes who highlighted the effort with a 9.975. It was Hughes' third 9.975 of the season with all three coming in different events – she eventually earned a perfect 10.0 on floor to top the 9.975 there.
Though Utah had to start on beam, it set the stage for the Red Rocks to close on their best event in bars. But the same was true for Cal on vault, the Bruins on floor and Oregon State on beam. That left Utah without much more it could do.
"Obviously, we dug ourselves in a whole with balance beam and were disappointed with that, but we were pleased that we did three very good events and continued to fight all the way through the end of the meet," said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden.
"We had some individual highlights which show the strength of this team, but the one we are bitter about is the overall team championship."
Hughes finished with victories on vault and in the all-around (39.55). Rowe tied for the beam win, while Lewis tied for the floor victory. Utah's Sabrina Schwab was named freshman of the year, while Kassandra Lopez was specialist of the year. Stanford's Elizabeth Price was named gymnast of the year and Cal's Justin Howell was coach of the year.
Stanford finished atop the first session standings with a 196.125, which left them in fifth overall after both sessions concluded. Arizona (195.525) finished sixth, while Washington (195.3) was seventh and Arizona State (191.675) was eighth.
Southern Utah led the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championship heading into the final rotation. But 15th-ranked Boise State had four gymnasts go for a 9.9 or higher on floor, while SUU's vault set failed to crack the 49.0 mark. The result was a second-straight MRGC title for the Broncos with a 197.025. The Flippin' Birds tied their school record with a 196.575 for second place while BYU finished third with a 196.1 and Utah State was fourth with 195.85.
Southern Utah's Danielle Ramirez won beam with a 9.875 and tied with four others for the vault win (9.85), including BYU's Makenzie Halliday and Sin To. Ramirez also tied with Utah State's Bailey McIntire for the all-around title at 39.425. Halliday finished third in the all-around with a 39.325.