Stephanie McAllister has long had the reputation of being the happy gymnast, the gal who was always quick to offer a teammate a hug or smile of encouragement when they needed and found pleasure even in the most tedious hours of practice.
But now, in her senior year with the Utes, McAllister is gaining a new reputation, one of being just plain good at what she does.
McAllister, a three-time All-American from Indianapolis, has developed into one of the Utes' top gymnasts, both in athletic talent and in what she brings to the team as a leader.
McAllister is ranked eighth nationally in the all-around with a 39.4 average and sixth on the floor with a 9.9 average.
Between the high scores and her proven consistency, McAllister has a virtual lock on a spot in the all-around for the Utes, despite the team's much-touted depth.
"I can't imagine her not being in the all-around for us," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "In the summer, she was determined to address the few weaknesses she had and try to make them stronger, and she has done that."
McAllister, who holds the school record for most consecutive routines without a fall, hitting 72 in a row from 2010-11, is particularly proud of her floor routine this year.
Always known for her playful personality, McAllister spent more time developing her floor routine than in the past, picking her own music and working through the choreography with former Utah gymnast Gael Mackie.
The result is a routine packed with difficult skills, but one that is slightly whimsical too, thanks to the choreography backed by the music from the movie "Burlesque."
"I wanted to do something fun and playful my senior year and it gives me a chance to cheese it up in front of the crowd," McAllister said. "It's my senior year, so I wanted to have fun this year and soak it all in. I know it sounds cheesy, but it goes so fast and I just want to enjoy every minute of it."
Having fun has never been a problem for McAllister, who despite being a three-year member of the Junior Olympic team was never rated as one of the elite gymnasts in her class. The Utes went after her because they liked her consistency, a critical attribute of being successful in collegiate gymnastics.
"She was very catlike and always finds the floor, even if something is off," Marsden said. "What I didn't know or appreciate is how determined she'd be to make herself better."
A regular in the lineup as a freshman and a second-team All-American on the uneven bars, McAllister reached a new level in 2011 after teammate Kyndal Robarts suffered a season-ending knee injury just two meets into the season. With Robarts out, it was on McAllister to step up as the team's leader, although she said she didn't step into the role by design.
"It just worked out that way," she said. "We all needed to contribute in our own ways and we did. The cool thing about last year is each person contributed something and did what they could and it worked out for us."
McAllister finished the season as Utah's MVP and earned first-team All-American honors on vault and second-team honors in the all-around with a 10th-place finish.
This year, even though Robarts has returned to the lineup, McAllister continues to have a heavy influence on her teammates. Others noticed her personal drive in the gym and tried to emulate it, sophomore Mary Beth Lofgren said.
"She doesn't need a coach to tell her what to do and does things on her own," Lofgren said. "She knew what she needed to work on and would do it. That makes you think about 'What can I do to fix my own things.' "
True to her nature, McAllister said she doesn't have any personal goals for her final year, other than helping her team be successful. That is, after all, what makes her happy.
"I'm at my best when my goals are to work on things in practice and compete the best I can," she said. "The majority of the team does better when we are having fun together."
Class • Senior. Height • 5-foot-2. From • Indianapolis
Of note • Three-time All-American. â¦ Holds school record for most consecutive routines without a fall. â¦ Has 16 career victories. â¦ Is 8-for-8 this year in made routines. â¦ Made the Dean's List and Athletic Director's Honor Roll as a junior. â¦ Majoring in mass communication.
BYU at Utah
P Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • Ch. 4 (tape delayed until 11 a.m. Sunday)