STANFORD, Calif. — The No. 4-ranked Utes made school history with their 197.125-195.800 win over Stanford on Monday, topping the 197.000 mark for the eighth consecutive meet. It is not only the best start in school history in terms of scores, it is also the most 197s strung together at any point in a season.
MyKayla Skinner took a breather from floor for the third time in four meets to rest a sore ankle, but dominated the meet nonetheless, winning all three of her events: vault (9.975), bars (9.95) and beam (9.90). MaKenna Merrell-Giles picked up her third all-around title of the season, scoring a 39.500, while Kari Lee was the all-around runner-up with a 39.325. Adrienne Randall made it a Ute sweep by winning floor with a 9.90.
“MyKayla was in her element and was incredible on all three events,” said co-head coach Tom Farden. “I was really proud of MaKenna Merrell-Giles and Kari Lee doing such a terrific job in the all-around for the second time in three days. They did a great job leading by example.”
Also for the second time in three days, Utah turned in solid efforts on vault (49.450), bars (49.375) and floor (49.300).
“Our main objective with this scheduling was to get on podium (at the GymQuarters Invitational in St. Charles, Missouri, on Feb. 15) and to expose the team to two meets in a weekend,” said Farden. “For the most part it was a success, but unfortunately we left tenths on the table on the balance beam in both meets. We’re still trying to find the sweet spot on the balance beam in terms of the rhythm to get the athletes in a position where they compete aggressively throughout the lineup.”
The Utes started the meet strong on the bars, with Skinner tying her season high of 9.95. Immediately prior, Merrell-Giles and Missy Reinstadtler posted back-to-back 9.875s. With Stanford struggling on vault, Utah took a 49.375-48.875 lead.
As good as Skinner was on bars, she was even better on the vault, exploding off the table with a huge Yurchenko double twist that ended with a decisive stick. She received a 10.0 from one judge and finished with a 9.975 average. Merrell-Giles and Kim Tessen sandwiched Skinner’s gem with 9.90s—the best vault score in three seasons by Tessen. After two events, the Utes held an imposing 98.825-97.600 lead over the host Cardinal.
Randall (9.90) and Lee (9.875) led a new floor lineup that featured Tessen (9.825), for the first time since she suffered a season-ending injury her freshman year in 2017, in place of Skinner. Utah’s lead ballooned to 1.70 points after the event with a 148.125-146.425 advantage heading into the final rotation.Comment on this story
In an attempt to improve on the balance beam, the Ute coaches moved high-scoring Lee to first in the lineup. Lee came into the meet with a team-high four wins on the event, including the last three competitions. She scored a 9.80 as the leadoff, but Sydney Soloski (9.60) and Alexia Burch (9.175) didn’t capitalize on the improved start. Randall got Utah back on track with a 9.825, followed by big routines from Merrell-Giles (9.875) and Skinner (9.90).
Utah now turns its sights to the biggest Pac-12 dual meet of the season Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the Huntsman Center against No. 2 UCLA.