Skinner wins all-around as Red Rocks beat ASU for third consecutive road victory

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) MyKayla Skinner flies between the bars during her routine. The fourth-ranked Utes compete against No. 9 California, No. 16 Auburn, No. 21 Brigham Young, Stanford and Southern Utah, during the the NCAA Regional Championships, Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Huntsman Center. The top two teams advance to the NCAA Championships April 20-21 in St. Louis.

Now that Utah’s gymnastics team has found the 197 scoring range, the Utes seem determined to make it their new standard.

The once elusive scoring mark has become the usual fare for the Red Rocks, who defeated Arizona State Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., with a season-high 197.375-195.825.

Utah has yet to fall below the 197 mark this season, an achievement the Utes have never before enjoyed to start the season.

MyKayla Skinner won the all-around with a 39.6. The win marks the third straight road victory for the Utes, who return home to host Arizona on Friday at 7 p.m.

Utah coach Tom Farden was thrilled with the win, especially since it came at the end of the road streak.

“We spent the whole month of January on the road and it’s tough,” he said. “We had a good meet, and I think it sets this team up really well for the end of the season. On the road, we have a short time to get used to equipment and the environment, and they made the adjustments quickly.”

The Utes used a big effort on the uneven bars to open the meet, scoring a season high 49.5. Skinner and Missy Reinstadtler led the Utes with 9.95s.

The Utes followed that effort with a 49.275 on the vault, with MaKenna Merrell-Giles winning the event with a 9.9.

Farden was hoping for a few more stuck vaults but said the Utes were just a little off.

“I don’t know if maybe they thought were were going to get a 200 or 198 or what, but they just pressed a little bit too much,” he said.

The Utes led Arizona State 98.775-98.15 at the halfway mark thanks to the strong start. The meet turned into all-but a blowout on the next rotation, when Utah scored a 49.325 on the floor and ASU stumbled on the beam, scoring 48.45.

Utah was led in its floor effort by Sydney Soloski, who had a 9.925, and Merrell-Giles, who had a 9.9.

Skinner, known for her clean floor routines, had a few low landings and scored 9.85. Skinner originally wasn’t listed to compete on the floor so she could rest, but she talked the coaches into letting her compete.

“It’s a long season so we were going to rest her,” Farden said. “But she was feeling good, and when you have an athlete like that you listen.”

The Utes took a 148.1-146.6 advantage into the final rotation, where they had their only misstep but handled it well.

Sophomore Alexia Burch fell off the beam as the second up, but Merrell-Giles got the team going again with a 9.875. Senior Kari Lee also scored a 9.875, which was a season-high, and Skinner won the event with a 9.925.

“Alexia had that mistake, but it was a total team effort in that final rotation,” Farden said. “I’m really pleased how we competed.”

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