St. Louis • Megan Marsden hasn’t had to take the pulse of her roster this season as much as in years past. Utah’s co-head coach knows her team, through the veteran leadership headlined by its three seniors, always had it covered.
“We haven’t had to say a lot to this group,” Marsden said this week. “They’re on it.”
On Saturday night, on the largest of stages at the Super Six inside Chaifetz Arena, the No. 5-ranked Utah gymnastics team waved goodbye to its small, sturdy senior class. For the last time ever, seniors Tiffani Lewis, Maddy Stover and Erika Muhaw competed and cheered with crimson ribbons in their hair, threw up their last “U’s” to the Utah contingent that made the trip to the Gateway City and went out going for a national title.
Earlier this week, Lewis was asked by her mom if the onset of emotions had hit her yet. The senior from Las Vegas said she refused to let the finality of the moment take hold of her in St. Louis.
An All-American on floor a year ago, Lewis also leaves as a two-time Pac-12 title holder in floor and vault. She earned All-Pac-12 honors three times, was a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree and was part of Utah’s gymnastics leadership committee this year, too.
“She’s got a really good competitive spirit that she wears outwardly and verbalizes it,” Marsden said. “You want her on your team when it’s meet day.”
Lewis said one of her defining moments at Utah came as a sophomore, when she finally let go of the intensity that accompanies the sport when young gymnasts train and compete full time as individuals.
“We’ve accomplished so much in the last four years,” Lewis said. “Just growing as an athlete physically and mentally, just growing to believe in myself more and more every day. I think the one thing I’m most proud of is allowing myself to step back and just enjoy gymnastics.”
Muhaw, a senior from Montville, N.J., was a regular in postseason competition a year ago, and as Marsden explained, didn’t get to compete as much as she would’ve liked her senior year. But Muhaw made herself indispensable in a leadership role, being a motivator for her teammates and utilizing her loud voice in support.
“Even in a championship like this,” Marsden said, “there will be girls who will here her from the corral.”
Stover, Marsden explained, was “the heart and soul of the group” this year. The senior from Fullerton, Calif., served as “the mother hen” of the Red Rocks this year and was one of the primary reasons Marsden felt like she didn’t have to hover. Stover was a second-team All-American in 2015 on beam and was later a first-team All-Pac-Conference section on beam, and was a two-term president of Utah’s Crimson Council.
“I feel like she has an old soul,” Marsden said. “She recognizes things we older people recognize.”
Like a future coach?
“If she chose to do it,” Marsden said. “She could run the world.”