Utah gives UCLA its best shot, but Utes still can’t top Bruins at Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) MyKayla Skinner waves to the crowd after scoring a 10 on the floor exercise, in the PAC-12 Gymnastics Championships at the Maverik Center, Saturday, March 23, 2019.

West Valley City • Utah’s gymnastics team came at UCLA with everything it had on Saturday — good scores became season highs, season highs became career highs, frequent hops on landings became sticks. The Utes gave it their all, but it still wasn’t good enough to snatch the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championship away from the Bruins.

The Bruins, ranked second nationally, won their second Pac-12 title in a row at the Maverik Center scoring 198.4. Utah was second with a 198.025 followed by Oregon State (196.6) and California (196.575).

The sixth-ranked Utes finished second for the second year in a row. Utah’s score marked the first time the Utes have scored that high since the 2018 regular season finale.

“That is the best gymnastics team in the country,” Utah coach Tom Farden said of the Bruins. “I haven’t seen a better team. They are a bit of a freight train right now and I don’t know if they have brakes.”

Arizona State had the high score in the afternoon session with a 196.4 followed by Washington (196.175), Stanford (195.925) and Arizona (193.9).

UCLA’s Kyla Ross won the all-around with a 39.8, scoring 10.0s on the uneven bars and the floor and 9.9s on the balance beam and vault.

Utah’s MyKayla Skinner, who shared the title with Ross last year and won it in 2017, was second with a 39.75. She earned her first 10.0 of the season on the floor and had 9.95s on the vault and uneven bars and a 9.85 on the balance beam.

“That was well deserved,” Farden said of Skinner’s perfect score on the floor. “It has been a long time coming.”


In short: UCLA won its second Pac-12 title in a row when Kyla Ross earned a 10.0 on the floor, clinching the win over Utah.

Key moment: The Bruins earned two 10.0s on the floor to stave off Utah’s upset attempt.

Key stat: The Bruins outscored Utah on every event except the balance beam, where Utah posted a 49.45 to UCLA’s 49.425.

Skinner said she felt it was going to be her night.

“I was joking that I needed to smile more,” she said. “But I felt like the scores were building.”

Utah senior MaKenna Merrell-Giles was third in the all-around with a 39.6.

The Utes will find out during Monday’s 3 p.m. selection show where they are going for their regional competition April 5-6.

“Getting a 198 is nothing to be upset about,” Merrell-Giles said. “I feel like we keep going up and up and we are really excited for regionals.”

Despite finishing second, Farden was pleased with the Utes’ effort.

“They didn’t back down,” he said. “They embraced the challenge and fought to the bitter end.”


BYU’s gymnastics team had hopes of winning the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Championship, instead it finished third as Boise State won its fifth conference title in a row, scoring 196.95 in Provo at the Marriott Center.

Southern Utah was second with a 195.9 while BYU was third with a 195.75 and Utah State was fourth with a 193.8.

BYU’s Shannon Evans was named the MRGC Gymnast of the Year and the Specialist of the Year for the uneven bars and co-specialist of the year for the floor.

BYU coach Guard Young was named the Coach of the Year.

The championship came down to the final event where the Utes trailed UCLA just 0.05. Utah had a solid effort, scoring 49.45 on vault led by Skinner’s 9.95, but the Bruins were just too good on the floor.

The Bruins earned a 49.775 on their specialty, led by 10.0s from Ross and viral video sensation Katelyn Ohashi.

Skinner said she was watching the scores and was hopeful.

“I told Kari [Lee] we can do it, we can do it, we are almost there,” she said. “When the last scores were going up on floor we knew we didn’t have it but we just wanted to finish strong.”

The meet had all of the drama it was anticipated to deliver as Utah took the early lead, thanks to a big bars set that saw them earn a season high 49.575.

UCLA then took the lead in the second rotation where Utah had a 49.3 on the beam while UCLA had 49.65 on the bars.

That gave UCLA a 99.075-99.025 lead over the Utes at the halfway mark.

Instead of fading, the Utes went into the final rotation trailing UCLA 148.625-148.575, thanks to a huge surge on the floor exercise in the third rotation.

The Utes posted a season high 49.7 on the floor, led by Skinner’s 10.0 and 9.95s from Macey Roberts and MaKenna Merrell-Giles.

UCLA earned a 49.55 on beam, which was just enough to stay ahead of the Utes and set up the final tense moments.

Beam might have been the only place where the Utes could point to a weakness, but Farden didn’t blame the event.

“Beam has been a bit of our Achilles’ heel this year, but I thought they did a nice job,” Farden said. “I told them to fight to the finish. We are in this thing and to fight.”


Ross was named the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year and Cal’s Milan Clausi, the daughter of former Utah great Missy Marlowe, was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year. UCLA’s Kondos Field was named the Coach of the Year.


1. UCLA, 198.4

2. UTAH, 198.025

3. Oregon State, 196.6

4. California, 196.575

5. Arizona State, 196.400

6. Washington, 196.175

7. Stanford, 195.925

8. Arizona, 193.900


Vault: MyKayla Skinner (Utah); Felicia Hano (UCLA) 9.95

Uneven bars: Kyla Ross (UCLA) 10.0

Balance beam: Katelyn Ohashi (UCLA); Grace Glenn (UCLA) 9.95

Floor: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) 10.0; Kyla Ross (UCLA); Katelym Ohashi (UCLA) 10.0

All-around: Kyla Ross (UCLA) 39.8

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