Throwback night for Utah’s second-ranked gymnastics team found the Utes slipping back in a few ways they didn’t necessarily want.
Then again, the Utes’ 197.075-195.4 win over Arizona State on Friday in front of 15,207 at the Huntsman Center served as a good reminder at just how far the Utes have come as a program this season.
Remember when breaking the 197 mark was considered a huge feat? Well, now the Utes (7-1, 4-0) can do that in what seems like an off night.
A week after their best meet of the season, when they scored a 197.7 to beat Washington, the Utes had a few uncharacteristic struggles against the Sun Devils (5-3, 2-2).
Utah had trouble landing vaults cleanly, scoring a 49.3 with MyKayla Skinner leading the team with a 9.9.
The Utes didn’t have any major breaks on the uneven bars, scoring 49.25, but they had trouble landing high marks on the balance beam.
MaKenna Merrell-Giles suffered her first fall of the year on the beam. The rest of the lineup was fairly clean, but the judging was tight. The only gymnast who broke the 9.9 mark was Skinner.
Floor, where the Utes are ranked No. 1, had a fall from Macey Roberts and a step-out from Missy Reinstadtler.
Skinner, who won every event and the all-around with a 39.675, capped off her night with a 9.95 on the floor while Merrell-Giles bounced back from her beam mistake to score 9.925 on the floor.
Utah coach Tom Farden said he was worried about the meet, noting the Utes were coming off a high score of a week ago and face Pac-12 rival UCLA next week.
“It was a trap meet,” he said. “We’ve cranked it out with some high octane meets and I didn’t know if we would over look Arizona State. They are much improved with new coaches doing a tremendous job down there.”
Even so, the No. 17 Sun Devils never threatened the Utes, illustrating just how good Utah is even when it isn’t at its best.
“We definitely had some highs and lows,” said Kari Lee, who was second in the all-around with 39.475. “But we came together and fought through everything.”
Vault: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 9.9
Uneven Bars: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 9.925
Balance beam: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 9.9
Floor: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 9.95
All-Around: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 39.675
Indeed, the mistakes did give some gymnasts the chance to be unlikely heroes. After Merrell-Giles fell from the beam, scoring 9.125, freshman Alexia Burch scored 9.825 to get the Utes back on track.
On the floor, Lee followed Roberts (9.225) and delivered a 9.875 in just her second routine of the season on the event while Merrell-Giles refused to allow her beam mistake to affect her floor effort.
“Falling flat-out stinks,” she said. “There is no other word for it. In a way I am happy because I’m more fired up and ready to go. It was definitely a learning experience of what happens when I get nervous and let myself do things that are wrong.”
With ASU out of the way, Farden said the Utes have to clean up their efforts before taking on the Bruins, who defeated the Utes earlier in the season in a quad meet.
“It has been two meets now where we haven’t hit 24 for 24, and it’s hard to build scores with that.”
In short: The Utes had a slight off night but still managed to break the 197 mark for the fourth meet in a row with the win over Arizona State.
Key moment: After MaKenna Merrell-Giles fell on the balance beam, freshman Alexia Burch got the Utes back on track with a 9.825.
Key stat: MyKayla Skinner’s win in the all-around is her 16th of her career, ranking her fourth all-time. Ashley Postell (2005-08) has the school record with 30.