SALT LAKE CITY — There comes a time during every gymnastics season when Utah’s co-head coaches Tom Farden and Megan Marsden quit paying attention to scores.
Not entirely of course — scores and the judges who come with them are an integral part of the sport.
When it comes to determining the growth and improvement made by their own gymnasts, however, the Red Rocks’ leaders come to a juncture where they nearly stop caring about scores altogether.
“I come to this point every year,” Marsden said. “You get a little frustrated with some scores. You feel like the judges aren’t giving the right feedback to your athletes. As coaches, we see improvement and then scores don’t reflect that.”
As a result, midway through each campaign the Red Rocks actively turn their focus inward.
“You begin to assess your performances on video, rather than score,” Marsden said. “With the different judges that watch you, you get such a variety of scores. That is just part of the deal.”
It is because of this approach that the Red Rocks were thrilled with their most recent meet, a victory over Cal, despite scores that were really no better than those that came before.
“We felt like this performance on Saturday was actually better than the scores reflected,” Marsden said. “Not every place, but we felt like there were girls who did a better routine, but still hung in that 9.85 range. We felt like they earned something better.”
MaKenna Merrell-Giles and MyKayla Skinner were among those singled out for strong and perhaps underscored performances, though Marsden was quick to absolve the judges of blame.
“To the judges' credit, they can only judge what they see on that night,” she said. “They don’t know the week before that an athlete did this and got this score. They don’t know that the week before MaKenna did this and got this score, and now she did this really well and should’ve gotten this score. They don’t have that knowledge.
“That is why you have to let meets get judged and we were excited that it was a win. Cal is a good team and we knew they’d be ready to knock us off if we struggled. Thankfully, the girls stepped up and got things done.”
RETURN OF THE MYK: Skinner is expected to compete in the all-round at the GymQuarters Invitational — Friday's quad meet against No. 5 LSU, No. 14 Missouri and Stanford.
That means a return to floor exercise, an event she has skipped the last two meets due to an ankle injury.
“As of now, they are planning on having me do floor,” she said Tuesday. “That’ll be fun.”
Her return may be short-lived, however.1 comment on this story
The Red Rocks have a quick turnaround following the GymQuarters Invitational — they will face off against Stanford in Palo Alto on Monday — and as a result, the two-time NCAA champ will likely sit out again.
“We will assess over the weekend how our all-arounders and athletes who compete a lot feel, how their bodies are doing, and then will likely make some lineup changes,” Marsden said.
Red Rocks on the air
No. 4 Utah vs. No. 5 LSU, No. 15 Missouri and Stanford