As the daughter of Utah gymnastics great Missy Marlowe and former Utah football player Joe Clausi, Milan Clausi grew up a fan of Utah gymnastics and attended meets regularly.

Now a freshman in college, Clausi will be at Utah’s meet against Cal in the Huntsman Center — just not in the role many had envisioned.

Clausi is returning home to Salt Lake City as a Golden Bear. She has the team’s highest all-around score of 39.3 earned against Arizona State and is a winner of the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award.

The question on everyone’s mind is probably, ‘How did the Utes let her get away?’

For Clausi, the decision was clear, Utah offered her a scholarship but she knew she wanted to go out of state.

“Both of my parents went to the U and they were trailblazers there but I wanted to get away and do the same thing without necessarily having the pressure,” she said. “I’m not big on the snow and getting out of the snow was cool and having a different cultural experience is good too.”

Her mom supported her daughter’s decision even though she remains a die-hard Utah fan. Instead of feeling conflicted, Marlowe said she is the luckiest person in the world this weekend.

“I get to cheer on my team which I always think is the best in the country, and my daughter, who I think is at the best university in the world, it is a win win situation for me,” she said.

Marlowe, who competed for Utah from 1989-92, set a new standard of success in the program as she won five NCAA championships, 12 All-American awards and the1992 Broderick Cup, an award that goes to the best collegiate female athlete regardless of sport. She was the first gymnast to earn the distinction.

Even with her success, Marlowe didn’t push her daughter into gymnastics. She introduced her to a variety of sports such as tennis, soccer, competitive dance, theater and others.

“She kept coming back to gymnastics,” Marlowe said.

Courtesy | University of Utah Athletics Missy Marlowe.

Once her mind was settled on gymnastics, Clausi excelled, earning the beam title and finishing second in the all-around at the 2018 Junior Olympic Nationals after winning the title in 2017.

A sought-after recruit, Clausi picked Cal for its academics as well as gymnastics program.

“I wanted to be challenged in gymnastics and Berkeley is as good as it gets,” she said. “My mom understood my decision and completely supported me.”

Marlowe said she has avoided trying to coach her daughter from afar, except for encouraging her to celebrate her successes more. “When she does something great, [celebrating] doesn’t come naturally to her,” she said. “She is more of a serious person and my only advice was to get into the moment more and celebrate the wins.”

Utah coach Megan Marsden said she was happy that her former gymnast’s daughter is thriving, even if she is on a Pac-12 rival team.

“She has found a place for herself and is really helping that team,” Marsden said. “They’ve been building that program the last eight or 10 years now and are continuing to move up and to Milan’s credit, she has figured out this college thing quickly. It doesn’t surprise me.”

Marsden said she can see much of Marlowe in her daughter.

“When she moves, especially on the floor and beam, I can see Missy in her,” she said. “She has a lot of her mother’s fluidity and presentation and upper body confidence.”

Clausi has her mom’s competitiveness too, pointing out that Cal beat Utah last year.

“It’s most definitely a program on the rise and we are getting that much closer to getting on top the last couple of years,” she said. “Being able to step onto a team that is up and coming has been good for me. I know I’m contributing to something bigger.”

At the Huntsman Center

When • Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Networks
Radio • ESPN 700
Records • Utah (5-0, 3-0), California (5-3, 2-1)
Series • Utah leads 23-2
Last regular season meeting • Cal won 197.5-197.45
Of note • The Utes have scored 197 or higher in their first five meets, the longest such streak was in 2014 and 2016 when they had seven meets with scores of 197 or higher…For the second meet in a row, MyKayla Skinner is unlikely to compete in the floor exercise due to a sore ankle. She has only failed to compete in the all-around three times in her career…Cal senior Toni-Ann Williams competed for Jamaica in the 2016 Olympics and is a six-time All-American.