St. Louis • MyKayla Skinner had some walking to do.
After leading the No. 5 Red Rocks to Saturday’s Super Six final at the NCAA gymnastics championships, the sophomore took the same jaunt around the Chaifetz Arena on five different occasions. That’s what happens when you’re that good, that dominant. Skinner finished in the top five in every event in Friday’s semifinal, including the all-around.
A year after winning the national title in floor exercise, she was one of three gymnasts to share the national championship in vault. Skinner’s 9.9375 on vault made her the co-national champion in the event with Oklahoma’s Brenna Dowell and Florida’s Alex McMurtry.
And for a second straight year, she finished as the all-around runner-up (39.7250) to Oklahoma star Maggie Nichols (39.8125), who repeated as the NCAA all-around champ.
“Never thought that was going to happen, because you can never know what can happen each meet,” Skinner said. “Overall, it was a really good meet and I’m really happy with how I did and how I helped the team and I’m just ready to go back at it tomorrow.”
Skinner also finished tied for third on bars (9.9250), second in beam (9.9250) and tied for third on floor (9.9375).
“It’s been a dream come true,” she said of being honored with individual titles. “Winning a lot of stuff last year, it is kind of stressful having to redeem yourself from last year, and I kind of just wanted to go out there and have fun like I’ve been doing all season, just to see where that takes me.”
Skinner earned first-team All-America honors in every event but bars, in which she earned second-team honors. Sophomore Missy Reinstatdler earned second-team All-America honors in all-around while freshman Sydney Soloski earned second-team honors on floor.
Syd the Kid
The only lineup decision up in the air entering Friday night’s semifinal at the 2018 NCAA gymnastics championships was no longer a question mark when the rotations were announced.
Soloski was chosen as the third gymnast to compete on Utah’s balance beam portion of the evening. Earlier this week, Utah co-head coaches Megan Marsden and Tom Farden narrowed down the candidates for that final spot to Soloski, fellow freshman Alexia Burch and junior Shannon McNatt. Soloski, who grew up in Calgary, Alberta, won out.
Soloski scored a 9.75 on the beam in her nationals debut. On the floor, she put down a huge score for the Utes, netting a 9.9125. She finished with second-team All-American honors on the floor.
“I was put beam lineup really late in the season and my job was to stay on the beam,” she said, “so that’s why I’m there. I’m consistent in practice. I was just like, ‘Syd, do what you do every day and you’ll be OK.’”
Red Rocks loyalty
Arguably the most fervent fan base in collegiate gymnastics showed up in the Gateway City this week.
Less than two hours before the second semifinal kicked off inside the Chaifetz Arena, a message in the sky could be read from quite a ways away. A plane pulled a massive red “Go Utes!” flag around the St. Louis area. It circled around the area of Saint Louis University and later downtown St. Louis before the No. 5 Red Rocks began their quest to the Super Six final Saturday evening.
According to Utah athletics, 220 tickets were sold to Utes fans who made the trek to St. Louis. Fans also held a tailgate in one of the lots outside the arena.