A large part of Utah’s gymnastics season has been strategizing and rearranging, moving this piece here and there to see if results are improved as a result of the tweaks.
But now, with just one meet to go in the regular season, the Utes are putting a clamp down on such experimenting and instead will try to stick to recent lineups to let the gymnasts get in a groove.
The Utes finish their regular season Saturday at Georgia, then begin the postseason with the Pac-12 Championships at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on March 23.
“We have used a lot of different names in different places this season,” Utah coach Tom Farden said. “But that was intentional. We wanted to keep testing them and seeing what combinations worked best and fingers crossed we have found those.”
The Utes have used virtually the same lineup the past two weeks and will do so again at Georgia. The one exception is on the uneven bars, where freshman Hunter Dula didn’t compete against Michigan due to illness. She is expected to be in her regular slot Saturday.
In addition to keeping the Utes challenged by the lineup changes, the modifications allowed some gymnasts to rest.
That tactic, plus the bye week, has left the Utes in relatively good shape. MyKayla Skinner, who was held out of the floor routine because her ankle was sore, is recovering and others such as Sydney Soloski (sore back) and Alexia Burch (ankle arthritis) were also given a chance to rest.
“The bye week came at a good time,” Utah co-coach Megan Marsden said. “We definitely needed it to get some rest for some and others got some extra training.”
Utah used the off week to focus on cleaning up their routines and eliminating the small deductions that might not cost them a regular season meet, but certainly separate teams in the postseason when judges are looking for any kind of breaks to help them differentiate squads.
“I still want improvement in leaping and jumping on the beam,” Marsden said. “Those things are critical for us. We need to keep working on the technical issues so they can do them perfectly in the decisive moment."
Perhaps the biggest lineup change the Utes made was eventually settling with Kari Lee as the leadoff on all events except floor, where fellow senior Macey Roberts has that task.
The decision to put Lee first on the beam seems to have given Utah the consistency and confidence it lacked earlier.
“We’ve come to a point where our lineup seems set,” Marsden said. “It seems like the whole lineup is competing with more confidence and our sophomores are really hitting their stride.”
Keeping the improvement going is crucial, senior MaKenna Merrell-Giles said.
“We have to stay focused,” she said. “We have to keep training hard so we are ready for the postseason.”
No. 6 Utah at No. 8 Georgia
Saturday, 2 p.m. MT
TV: SEC Network Plus
Top 25 Rankings
Ranking Team Average
1. Oklahoma 198.025
2. UCLA 197.885
3. Florida 197.675
4. LSU 197.475
5. Denver 197.365
6. Utah 197.315
7. Michigan 197.14
8. Georgia 197.1
9. Minnesota and Kentucky 196.845
11. Alabama 196.82
12. Auburn 196.67
13. Boise St. 196.61
14. BYU 196.55
15. Oregon St. 196.485
16. California 196.46
17. Washington 196.395
18. Nebraska 196.345
19. Missouri 196.255
20. Arkansas 196.17
21. Arizona St. 196.035
22. Ohio St. 195.985
23. Stanford 195.905
24. Penn St. 195.9
25. SUU 195.875