RENO, Nev. — The No. 2 ranked Utah gymnasts shined on three events, but low scores on beam left them short of No. 4 UCLA in a four-team Pac-12 preview in the Reno Events Center. After an inexplicably long wait for final scores, UCLA finished with a 197.200 to Utah’s 196.975. Placing third and fourth were Washington (195.725) and Stanford (195.350).
“We had some standout performances for this early in the season,” said Utah coach Tom Farden. “MyKayla (Skinner) and MaKenna (Merrell-Giles) had a great day of gymnastics and our team floor was postseason quality. I was particularly happy with the second person up on all four events, as they really helped get our rhythm going. On balance beam, we were still a little tentative and we have to be sharper on our connections to ensure we get the (10.0 start) values.”
The Utes got off to a fast start on bars with a 49.300 set headlined by a flawless looking 9.95 from Skinner. Merrell-Giles added a 9.875 in helping Utah take what would be its only lead of the day.
The second rotation would cost the Utes dearly. A slew of 9.90 start values from a member of the judging panel resulted in a 9.60 and three 9.725s in mostly bobble-free routines from Shannon McNatt, Merrell-Giles, Maddy Stover and Missy Reinstadtler. Skinner (9.825) and Lee (9.80) could bring Utah up to only a 48.80 and left the Utes in third place at the midway point.
The Utes didn’t go down without a fight, however, posting the best scores of any team on floor (49.450) and vault (49.425) on their last two events. Skinner had the large contingent of Utah fans screaming for 10.0s and came close — scoring a 9.975 on a picture-perfect floor routine and finishing the night by sticking a huge vault for a 9.95. Merrell-Giles was hot on Skinner’s heals, setting her up nicely with a 9.95 on floor and 9.80 on vault.