FORT WORTH, Texas — It wasn’t what they wanted, which ultimately was more success as a team, but both of Utah’s MyKayla Skinner and MaKenna Merrell-Giles were honored at the close of competition at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships on Friday night.
Each gymnast added to their collection of career All-America awards, with Skinner earning first-team honors for her fourth place finish on floor exercise, fifth place finish on vault, sixth place finish on uneven bars and seventh place finish in the all-around.
The All-America wins brought Skinner’s school record total to 26.
Merrell-Giles, meanwhile, had an eighth place finish on vault to earn an All-America honor for herself, the ninth of her career.
Skinner’s finish in the all-around ended her run of back-to-back runner-up finishes at nationals — the junior also missed out on an individual NCAA title for the first time in her career — to which she had a simple team-oriented response.
“The all-around doesn’t matter," she said, “but good for those girls.”
FULL-FLEDGED SUPPORT: Skinner has made her decision, as far as her future in gymnastics goes, and is slated to announce the news early next week.
Whether she returns to Utah or attempts to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, she has the complete and utter support of the Red Rocks.
“Whatever she decides, this team, the coaches and trainers support her completely,” Merrell-Giles said. “Whatever she chooses, she is going to excel at. That is just what she does. She will do amazing.”
ECHOES FROM THE PAST: Merrell-Giles’ fall on beam may have looked familiar to Utah fans.
Not because Merrell-Giles made a habit of falling on the event — that was a rarity throughout her now finished career — but because it mirrored a fall suffered by former Red Rock Baely Rowe on the final routine of her career.
“I was actually thinking of Baely, her senior year and my sophomore year, before my beam routine,” said Merrell-Giles. “I never saw her fall on beam ever, but she fell on beam, on the last routine she ever did. I was like, ‘Oh, I hope I don’t do that.' … My fall happened on the exact same skill.”11 comments on this story
COUNTING THE DAYS: Six days from now, on April 25, Merrell-Giles will have gone the longest in her entire life without gymnastics. Basically, gymnastics has been a part of her life since the moment she was born.
Because of that, the end of her gymnastics career hasn’t exactly hit her yet.
“Maybe I’ll feel different (on Thursday), but it doesn’t feel real right now,” she said.
She also joked that maybe Thursday won’t be that historic day after all, as she’ll sneak in some beam work early next week.
“I have a plan to do another beam series on Monday and then call it quits,” she said, with a laugh.