Utah’s gymnastics team set the mark of reaching 197 in its meets this year because it felt that was the mark it needed to be a contender for the NCAA Championships.
Now, with just four meets left in the regular season, it turns out the Utes were right.
After a slightly off meet in which they defeated Arizona State 197.075-195.4 on Friday, the Utes slipped to third place in the rankings with a 197.292 average.
Two-time defending champion Oklahoma holds the top spot with a 197.88 average while Pac-12 rival UCLA is second with a 197.346.
The Utes compete at UCLA on Sunday.
Fourth-ranked LSU and fifth-ranked Florida are also above 197, averaging 197.267 and 197.125, respectively.
The Utes have been above 197 in every meet except for their 197.2-196.975 loss to the Bruins at a quad meet in January in Reno, Nev. However, Friday’s effort and the scoring averages show the Utes must ramp up their goal if they really want to be a factor in the NCAAs.
“We need more like a 197.5,” Utah coach Megan Marsden said. “Like Tom [Farden, co-coach] told the girls, a 197 isn’t going to win it at the Super Six. That is maybe fifth, where we were last year.”
NO. 3 UTAH AT NO. 2 UCLA
When • Sunday, 6 p.m. MST
TV • Pac-12 Network
The Utes, who have a healthy, veteran team, wouldn’t be satisfied with another fifth-place showing this year. Even though they broke the 197 mark Friday, MaKenna Merrell-Giles noted it has been two weeks now that the Utes have had at least one fall.
“We hit 197 but we had more than one mistake and we have to work harder,” she said.
The focus this week will be on better vault landings and continuing to clean up other routines.
While it would have been nice to have a clean meet on Friday, Marsden saw some positives in the situation too that should help the Utes going forward.
“At some point in the season you are going to make mistakes,” Marsden said. “What I liked is how the people after that responded. They can’t change their approach and have to work aggressively and not be cautious.”
Managing the lineup
The Utes have a few extra days to practice since they don’t compete again until Sunday. However, at this point in the season the coaches are more focused on rest and recovery than getting extra reps.
“We have four all-arounders and some three event people so we want to make sure we don’t over train them,” Marsden said. “Our practices are going to become even more personalized with some doing less and others more so we can keep everyone fresh.”
Freshman Sydney Soloski, who sat out Friday’s meet after bashing her nose on the uneven bars in practice, is returning to practice on the balance beam and floor this week and is expected to compete on the floor against the Bruins.
She has earned 9.9 or higher in the last three meets on the floor. Missy Reinstadtler competed in her place and scored 9.65 with a step-out.
In the rankings
Brigham Young checks in at No. 19 with a 195.638 average. The Utes are ranked second on the vault (49.429), fourth on the bars (49.275), eighth on the balance beam (49.138) and first on the floor (49.45).
Individually, MyKayla Skinner is second in the all-around (39.596) and Merrell-Giles is eighth (39.421). Skinner is fourth on the vault (9.917), fifth on the bars (9.908) and ninth on the floor (9.908). Merrill-Giles is third on the floor (9.938) and Kim Tessen is 10th (9.883) on the vault.
Around the state
Both Southern Utah and Utah State have a short week after competing in Cedar City on Monday. Utah State travels to Boise State on Friday and SUU travels to BYU on Friday to compete against the Cougars and Denver.
It will be the third meeting between SUU and BYU. The Cougars defeated SUU 195.75-194.475 earlier in the year in Provo then lost in Cedar City 196.8-196.45 on Feb. 9. BYU also lost to Denver 196.75-194.875 on Feb. 3.
1. Oklahoma 197.88
2. UCLA 197.346
3. Utah 197.292
4. LSU 197.267
5. Florida 197.125
6. Michigan 196.563
7. Alabama 196.475
8. Arkansas 196.383
9. Kentucky 196.321
10. Denve 196.296
19. BYU 195.638