SALT LAKE CITY — There may not be a more coveted position on a collegiate gymnastics team than that of all-arounder.
The opportunity, nay privilege, to compete on each of the four events — floor exercise, uneven bars, balance beam and vault — is something gymnasts vie for their entire careers.
All-around competitors get to showcase the full breadth of their skill, and with that can come national notoriety, conference gymnast of the week awards and more.
Simply put, competing in the all-around is what gymnasts want to do.
“That is my main goal,” Utah sophomore Alexia Burch said. “For me, personally, I want to be in the all-around.”
An all-around spot is anything but a guarantee, however, even after a gymnast has competed in it a time or two.
Of the three official all-arounders this year for Utah gymnastics — Burch would make that number four, as she competed on all four events against Arizona, but her uneven bars routine was done on exhibition — only one, MaKenna Merrell-Giles, has competed on all four events in every meet.
Injuries, lineup changes — whatever the reason, a spot in the all-around is rarely, if ever, set in stone.
Because of that, a few Red Rocks, including MyKayla Skinner, Kari Lee, Burch and Missy Reinstadtler have unique perspectives on all-around competition, as compared to competing on one or two events in a meet.
And, truth be told, those perspectives vary greatly by gymnast.
The two-time NCAA champion has competed on all-around for the vast majority of her Utah career. She did so this weekend at the GymQuarters Invitational, where she scored a 39.550, including a 9.925 on floor.
Prior to that meet, however, Skinner sat out on floor exercise twice to rest an ailing ankle. Last year she also missed the all-around when she sat out two events against Cal.
With those experiences in hand, Skinner has learned one thing in particular — she does not enjoy skipping the all-around.
“It definitely is different,” she said. “I don’t really like it that much. I like being out there, having fun. It is hard to not be out there. It is a challenge.”
The opposite holds true for Reinstadtler.
An all-arounder all of last year, Reinstadtler has been limited to three, two or even one event this season, thanks to a lingering foot injury.
The junior finds her lack of all-around competition to be almost a stress-release.
“I’m doing one event right now and I feel a lot less stressed on meet day and throughout the meet,” she said.
The effect has been on display as the All-American has recorded a 9.950 on bars this season — a career high — and scored a 9.925 over the weekend.
“I can just warm up, perform, and then enjoy cheering my team on,” Reinstadtler said. “I am able to watch them and that is really fun. To be able to watch every routine after I go, I would never do that before.”
For Lee, all-around competition has always been the goal, but now in her fifth year at Utah she gets tired.
“I am always tired,” she said, chuckling. “You exert so much energy. That is why everyone calls me Grandma, though. I am always panting and resting all the time. Everyone is always go, go, go and I am always like give me a second, OK?”
As for Burch, she knows all-around competition is different, but it will always be her aim.
“It is for sure different,” she said. “You have to keep yourself up on all four events. That is my main goal, though. I want to be in the all-around.”
No matter their perspectives, competing in the all-around remains the near-universal goal.Comment on this story
“It is about love for gymnastics,” said Burch.
All, or none of them, may compete in the all-around Monday afternoon against Stanford, as the Utes and Cardinal are set to face off for the second time in four days.
“We will see how our all-arounders feel, how their bodies are feeling and we will determine changes off that,” Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden said.
Red Rocks on the air
No. 4 Utah at Stanford
Monday, 3 p.m. MST
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, California
TV: Pac-12 Network