We are a little unusual because we use four all-arounders. —Utah co-head coach Tom Farden
SALT LAKE CITY — A cursory glance at the final results from the NCAA gymnastics regional in Salt Lake City last week reveals a few things.
MyKayla Skinner is good. Really good.
MaKenna Merrell-Giles and Missy Reinstadtler are not too far behind either.
In fact, if not for Kari Lee’s unexpected tumble off the beam, all four Utah all-arounders would have been among the top five or six gymnasts in the entire competition, along with Stanford star Elizabeth Price and Auburn’s Drew Watson.
That is, in reality, nothing new for the Red Rocks. All season they have relied heavily on those four gymnasts, as well as senior Tiffani Lewis, to great effect.
The quintet regularly performs 19 of the 24 available routines at meets and is the primary reason Utah is ranked No. 5 in the country heading to nationals.
The heavy reliance on such a small group of athletes is relatively unique to Utah gymnastics, however.
“We are a little unusual because we use four all-arounders,” said co-head coach Tom Farden.
As such, training, both for regionals and the upcoming national championships, has varied greatly depending on the gymnast.
“What we are doing with the five is a little bit of a different training scenario than what we are doing with the other athletes,” said Farden. “We are still doing strength and cardio, the things that we need to do to make sure we are strong, but there is more rest involved.”
“We are treating the all-arounders slightly different,” added co-head coach Megan Marsden.
If Saturday’s meet was any indication, the strategy appears to be working.
“The all-arounders are holding up pretty well,” said Marsden. “Just Kari, she kind of turned her ankle after her bar routine. Everybody saw it. Thankfully we got out of that without anything serious.”
THE BRACKET: When the Red Rocks take the floor at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University, Friday, April 20, they will do so opposite some of the best teams in the country.
No. 1 and defending champion Oklahoma, No. 4 Florida (as of the latest NCAA rankings) and No. 8 Kentucky will all compete in the evening semifinal, set to begin at 6 p.m. MDT, along with No. 5 Utah, No. 9 California and No. 11 Washington.
Headlining the group are the Sooners. The champs have been the best practically all season, by a wide margin at that, having averaged a team score of 197.850.
“We look forward to competing with Oklahoma,” said Farden. “It is inspiring. That is where we want to be and we are recruiting and coaching to get there.”
The early semifinal, which starts at noon, will feature, among others, No. 2 LSU, No. 3 UCLA, No. 7 Nebraska and No. 10 Arkansas.
The top three teams in each semifinal advance to the Super Six the following day.
REINFORCEMENTS: Utah officially added the fourth and final member of its 2018-19 recruiting class Wednesday morning.
Cammy Hall (Gainesville, Virginia) signed a National Letter of Intent and joins November signees Cristal Isa (Henderson, Nevada), Adrienne Randall (Corona, California) and Hunter Dula (Orem, Utah) as the latest additions to the program.
“We are really excited about Cammy’s decision to become a Ute,” Farden said in a press release. “She was flying a bit under the radar when she caught our attention and has recently made great strides.”
Her club highlights include top-three finishes at the 2018 Virginia State Championships, where she placed second in the all-around and on vault, and third on floor. She was also the state runner-up in 2017 on vault and floor.
“She has made great strides, especially on the leg events,” said Farden. “She completes a vault that starts from a 10.0 and opens floor exercise with a sky-high double Arabian.”