It’s impressive. It’s exciting. I am glad she is on my team. —Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden on MyKayla Skinner
SALT LAKE CITY — Four days after their rout of the No. 20 ranked Georgia GymDogs, the Red Rocks keep winning.
In this case it was a specific Red Rock as the Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday afternoon that Utah super sophomore MyKayla Skinner was chosen as the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week.
The honor is the fifth such earned by Skinner this season and the 12th of her two-year collegiate career, a Pac-12 record.
Simply put, Skinner was sensational Friday night against Georgia. She won the all-around title with a score of 39.725, the seventh-best score in school history. She was a winner on balance beam, where she tied her career high with a 9.95, as well as uneven bars, on which she posted a 9.925.
In addition to her wins, Skinner placed second on floor exercise, where she tied her season-high with a 9.975.
She is now the second-ranked all-around gymnast in the country, has 19 career all-around wins, the second-most on Utah’s all-time career charts, and has 28 individual titles this season.
“It’s impressive. It’s exciting. I am glad she is on my team,” said Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden. “I’m really proud of her. She brings such a presence on the floor and gives confidence to some of the other athletes on our team; those who have had to work on confidence, she gives them more.”
Poppin’ Champagne: Skinner wasn’t the only Utah gymnast to have an incredible showing against the GymDogs. Tiffani Lewis scored a career-high 9.975 on floor, Missy Reinstadtler scored a career-high 9.925 on beam and Sydney Soloski tied her career-high with a 9.925 on floor.
No one had a more impressive performance on any one event, however, than MaKenna Merrell-Giles.
The junior scored a perfect 10.0 on floor, which was her second 10.0 of the season (the first came on vault against Washington).
“I think after you do a routine like that you think, ‘that was the best I could do,’” said Merrell-Giles. “There are always ways to improve, even with a 10.0, but in that moment I knew that I had done all that I could do to get the highest score I could.”
Despite Skinner’s heroics and Merrell-Giles' perfection, no moment in the meet against the GymDogs was more poignant than Maddy Stover’s leadoff beam routine.
The senior scored a 9.85 on the event, one of her highest scores of the season, in what was the last regular-season routine of her Red Rocks career.
Following her routine, Stover was treated to a standing ovation as Utah gymnastics fans thanked her for, well, everything.
“Maddy was a Junior Olympic all-around champion. Maddy was a big-time kid for us,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden. “For her to have rheumatoid arthritis and have her shoulder deal that she has gone through and keep the attitude she has, to never quit, never die. It has rubbed off on our team. When the going gets tough and we lose, nobody pouts, ’cause Maddy keeps marching on.”
“I made it. I finished,” said Stover. “I wasn’t expecting everyone to get up on their feet. I mean I only do one event and while I know my contributions are felt beyond the athletic performance I put out there, to be acknowledged in that way was special for me. Sometimes I don’t fully realize that I am a good asset to the team leading off on beam, so it was nice to have my gymnastics acknowledged.
“That is why I got emotional. If anything, it was tears of happiness and joy; just gratitude for everybody. The fans here at Utah see beyond us as gymnasts, and I felt that. I felt like they saw me for who I was after that beam routine. It was special.”