SALT LAKE CITY — Early in the season, following the BYU meet, Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden touted freshman Adrienne Randall as a potential, albeit future, NCAA champion.
“We feel like she is a champion in the making on balance beam,” Marsden told the Deseret News. “She is very comfortable and confident on that event, works clean and has a signature move.”
The move Marsden spoke of is the rare Ruflova, full-twisting back handspring swing down, where Randall will jump backward and perform a full twist while she’s in the air, before straddling her legs and catching herself in a sitting position on the beam.
While the Ruflova, complicated and daring, inevitably draws gasps from everyone who sees it, it is her routine in its entirety that draws praise from her coaches.
“Adrienne has an incredible beam routine, regardless of the score,” co-head coach Tom Farden said. “She continues to blossom.”
As the season has gone on, Randall has proven herself much more than a specialist, though.
That was made evident during last weekend’s meet against Arizona, in which Randall scored a career-high 9.95 in floor exercise.
That score, coupled with a 9.825 on beam, was good enough to earn her Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors.
None of it, however, freshman of the week honors nor any of her strong performances on beam and floor, has come as the slightest bit of a surprise to Farden and Marsden.
This is the Adrienne Randall they always expected.
“She was recruited here to Utah partly because we felt she had potential in the all-around,” Marsden said.
The reason, according to Farden, is simple — Randall possesses an almost otherworldly work ethic.
“She is a hard and diligent worker and she just keeps inching her way,” he said. “She is not a talker — teammates have described Randall on multiple occasions as incredibly quiet and reserved — she is worker. I found her when she was a pretty young kid and I recognized that her work ethic was unbelievable. I remember thinking to myself, ‘this kid is unbelievable.’ Even if she doesn’t haven’t Olympic level talent or whatever you want to call it, her work effort just keeps going. She won’t stop improving.”
PLEASANT SURPRISE: Few are close enough to the vault in the Huntsman Center to see the facial expressions of gymnasts as soon they complete the event.
Sure, athletes' reactions after a vault are extremely visible, and often filled with exclamations of joy as high-fives and hugs are shared with coaches and teammates.
Those celebrations can mask a gymnast’s true feelings, however.
It is their facial expressions immediately following a vault that tell the real story, whether it was a successful vault or a disappointment.
The look on Alexia Burch’s face after she completed a career-high 9.9 against Arizona was something else altogether.
A combination of shock, amazement and pure joy, Burch was basically overcome with emotion following her vault last Friday.
“It was kind of an interesting experience,” she said. “I was just vaulting, doing another vault and then when I landed I just thought, ‘Wow! I actually just stuck that vault.’ I had so many emotions that I didn’t even think about the fact that it could be a good score. I just ran back to the team.”
The reality of her score, the best by any gymnast in the meet, didn’t hit Burch until it was explained to her by her teammates, even as the sold out Huntsman Center roared its approval.
“I was standing there and all of a sudden the crowd started cheering,” Burch said. “At first, I thought ‘That’s weird, someone must really like the Arizona girl, because they had just announced her name.’ Then I looked over at my teammates and everyone said, ‘You got a 9.9.’ That’s when I knew. It was so crazy.”
INJURY REPORT: Injuries are a regular part of life for almost every gymnast, and the Red Rocks are no exception.
The trio of MyKayla Skinner, Missy Reinstadtler and Cristal Isa are suffering from more than just regular aches and pains, however.
Skinner has a buildup of fluid in her ankle, which kept her out of the floor lineup against Arizona and will do so again Saturday against Cal.
She expects to be able to compete on floor in Utah’s quad meet against LSU, Missouri and Stanford, on Feb. 15, but only time will tell.
Reinstadtler, meanwhile, has a sore foot, which has limited her to just the uneven bars, after she was expected to compete in the all-around this season.
She is expected to be back at full strength soon enough.1 comment on this story
“Missy is going to be back in about two weeks,” Farden said.
Perhaps the most glaring injury is that to the freshman Isa.
“Cristal sprained some ligaments (in her arm) and is out for another three weeks,” said Farden. “We will take it day by day and then reexamine it. If it is good and (the doctors) like what they see then we will start slowly getting her back.”
Red Rocks on the air
No. 4 Utah (197.205) vs. No. 14 Cal (195.890)
Saturday, 1 p.m. MST
Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700 AM