A sure sign that Utah’s gymnastics team is made of a veteran group is the way the Utes have gone about their preseason training.
Right from the start the fifth-ranked Utes have focused on sticking their landings, something teams normally don’t focus on until much later in the season.
Usually the preseason is a time to break in freshmen,build chemistry and so forth, but the Utes, who return all but two gymnasts from their 2017 team, boast a team full of experience and talent which they will show off at the Red Rocks Preview Friday at 7 p.m.
“We feel like we have had one of our best preseasons,” Utah co-coach Megan Marsden said. “We are a relatively healthy team and with a lot of gymnasts coming back, we have shifted our focus a bit to go for more sticks on our landings now. We feel like that is the thing we can improve the most so we wanted to focus on it sooner.”
Gone are Sabrina Schwab, who was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in2016 but was forced to retire recently due to ongoing injuries and Baely Rowe, who earned first team All-America honors on floor and second team All-America honors in the all-around.
Red Rocks Preview
When • Friday, 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center
In short • Doors open for the event at 5:30 p.m.with all seating being general admission. The gymnasts will sign autographs following the exhibition. Fans can still purchase season tickets. Single meet tickets go on sale Dec. 18.
Among the returners are MyKayla Skinner, the 2017 floor exercise champion and all-around runner-up and fellow All-Americans Tiffani Lewis, Maddy Stover, Kari Lee and MaKenna Merrell-Giles.
Marsden said Lee has recovered well from the sprained ankle that kept her sidelined for most of the post-season last year while Missy Reinttadtler has had a strong preseason.
“We feel like we have seen just a fraction of her full potential and this year she is really primed for a breakout season,” Marsden said.“She showed glimmers of star qualities last year but because of injuries was more thrown into events rather than planned so we are excited to see what she can do this year.”
The Utes will also introduce two freshmen on Friday, Sydney Solosky and Alexia Burch. Solosky was a four-year Canadian National team member and Burch was a junior Olympic all-around champion. However, thanks to the depth of the team, the Utes will be able to work in the freshmen rather than toss them right into competition like they’ve had to do in the past.
“They will be in exhibition on all four events,” Marsden said. “Both are vying for spots in the lineup but we have a lot of experience and depth.”
The Utes will compete as an entire team on the vault and uneven bars then will split into two groups and use alternate competitors for the balance beam and floor.
The doors open for Friday’s preview at 5:30 p.m. All seats are general admission.
An Autograph session will be held after the routines are finished. Utah opens the regular season Jan. 5 against BYU at the Huntsman Center.