SALT LAKE CITY — During Pac-12 Network broadcasts of Utah gymnastics meets this season, color commentators Amanda Borden, Tim Daggett and Samantha Peszek, whoever was on the call, often lauded each individual Red Rock with the use of different superlatives.
MyKayla Skinner was consistently touted as world-class, an incredible athlete. MaKenna Merrell-Giles’ long lines were frequently mentioned, as a positive of course.
Tiffani Lewis was explosive and Kari Lee elegant. Sydney Soloski was described as a spark plug on more than one occasion.
Beautiful was a term that could easily have been used to describe many, if not all of the Red Rocks, but it was almost exclusively reserved for sophomore Missy Reinstadtler.
Her style of gymnastics, according to Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden, is the reason.
“She is a beautiful gymnast,” said Marsden. “Physically, she is capable of doing all of her elements, on every event, really well.”
That was the case for Reinstadtler prior to joining the Utah program, and has remained the case through her almost two years at the U.
Capable is one thing and proficient another, however.
For much of her tenure as a Red Rock, Reinstadtler was not the later. She showed flashes of her capabilities. As a freshman, she scored a 9.925 on floor and a 9.900 on bars, and she had back-to-back-to-back meets of career-high all-around scores at the beginning of this year — and yet for every good score she received, Reinstadtler almost always had another that was less than stellar.
Heading into the national championships this weekend at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Reinstadtler has begun to make good on her potential.
In four of the past five meets, the sophomore has earned an all-around score of 39.400 or better, including her career-best performance (39.500) at California on Feb. 25.
Against Georgia she scored a 9.925 on beam, a career-high, and she matched that at NCAA regionals.
In short order, Reinstadtler has gone from potential contributor to one of the gymnasts most likely to decide the Red Rocks' postseason fate.
The reasons for the shift in her performance are plentiful, from valuable experience gained to effective training, but it is a newfound mental approach that has made the biggest difference.
“I think it is her mental approach and her mental toughness,” said Marsden. “She was having trouble, on call in a meet, being able to hit all her elements. She has been working with our sports psychologist, and I tried to give her a little bit of insight into my experience. She has gotten a few mental tools that are helping.”
“I think I started seeing improvements in practice first and then just one day it kind of clicked,” added Reinstadtler. “Ever since then my practices have gone really well and from that the meets have gotten better and more consistent.”
Which is only good news for the Red Rocks.