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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Kari Lee launches off the vault during the Utah gymnastics Red Rocks Preview at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017.
I think the team chemistry is going really good this year. It has been a lot better in training. We want really bad to finish in at least the top three at nationals this year. —Utah sophomore MyKayla Skinner

SALT LAKE CITY — While their season doesn’t officially kick off until Jan. 5, when they host the rival BYU Cougars, the Utah gymnastics team showed off their many talents Friday night at the Jon N. Huntsman Center in the annual Red Rocks Preview.

A regular tradition for as long as Utah has boasted a gymnastics program, the preview has served as a welcome to the season for gymnasts and fans alike.

“It’s a nice little teaser, especially for the newcomers,” senior Tiffany Lewis said. “We get to show up for our fans and honor the people who support us every meet. It’s really cool and makes us hungry for the season to start.”

Friday night's exhibition was no different, as thousands of Ute fans filled the Huntsman Center to watch their favorite gymnasts showcase the routines that they’ll perform time and again this year.

This incarnation of the event took on a slightly different shape, however, courtesy of a tear-jerking video tribute featuring each of the Red Rocks.

The film highlighted the team’s slogan “We Are Warriors,” which the Red Rocks will certainly need during what should be a difficult 2018 campaign that they hope ends in a national championship.

“(The girls) are determined and confident enough to do better than last year,” co-head coach Tom Farden said. “It is every coach’s dream to win a national championship, and I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but if we can build on last year this program will be ecstatic.”

Friday’s showcase was the first step in that goal, publicly at least, and as far as Farden was concerned it was a success.

“They worked out some of the jitters and worked on some timing things,” he said. “We liked what we saw. We thought they did a good job.”

Leading the way was sophomore MyKayla Skinner.

“She’s a world-class athlete,” said Farden. “She added a new combination on balance beam and her vault was incredible. On bars she added another release move.”

“I equate her to a world-class marathon runner,” added Farden. “She can run a four-minute mile but we are asking her to run it in just eight minutes. It is addition by subtraction for (MyKayla).”

According to Skinner and Farden, this team has a different makeup than those in years past, potentially a championship one.

“Their demeanor is very good,” said Farden. “They are calm and confident and you can tell they are becoming more of a seasoned team out there."

“I think the team chemistry is going really good this year,” added Skinner. “It has been a lot better in training. We want really bad to finish in at least the top three at nationals this year.”

After Friday's preview, it is so far so good for the Red Rocks.