Forth Worth, Texas • Utah’s efforts in the NCAA Gymnastics Championships ended like so many others have for junior MyKayla Skinner, with her expressing frustration over a scoring system that doesn’t always reward the gymnasts who perform the most difficulty.
Skinner, who was the NCAA all-around runner-up the last two years, was left out of the medals on Friday.
She didn’t expect to be in the running for the all-around after she had a slight bobble on the beam that left her with a 9.775 for the event and a 39.55 in the all-around, but her clean routines in the other events that didn’t score highest were obviously frustrating to her.
She had a 9.9375 on floor, where she is known to perform the most difficult routine in college gymnastics, and a 9.925 on vault and a 9.9125 on the uneven bars.
UCLA’s Kyla Ross had the high floor score from the afternoon session of 9.95.
“I didn’t want to get too down on myself, so I had already prepared myself,” she said. “It has been the whole season.”
The question now is, will Skinner’s frustrations and experiences this year be her swan song for college gymnastics, or will she come back for more?
Skinner said she will announce this week whether she will return to Utah next year or leave the program to make a run for the 2020 Olympics.
Skinner was passed over for the 5-woman 2016 Olympic Team even though she finished fourth at the Olympic Trials.
She admits she has never gotten over that disappointment and would like another chance.
MYKAYLA SKINNER’S FRIDAY RESULTS
Uneven bars: 9.9125
Balance beam: 9.775
On Friday, she sounded like an athlete ready to be done with a collegiate scoring system she called “stupid.”
“There is nothing we can do about it but stay positive and not get down on yourself,” she said.
That is the conundrum that Skinner finds herself in. She is one of the most successful gymnasts in history, yet there is a perception she is also one of the sport’s most overlooked as well, because her routines include so much difficulty for which she isn’t always rewarded.
While Skinner was fiery over the judging, she made it clear perceived judging slights had not diminished her overall experience of competing with the Utes.
She broke down into tears as she talked about Utah.
“It was so cool to come to college because it is something I didn’t know if I would do, go to college or go pro,” she said. “It has been an awesome experience and to be able to have this opportunity, it has been so fun and I am grateful for it.”
In some ways, Skinner’s junior year is her most frustrating. Her streak of hit routines ended at 161 when she had a fall on the uneven bars at the NCAA Regional Championships. It is the first year she won’t have an NCAA title and she had just one 10.0, on the floor at the Pac-12 Championships.
However, she is still one of Utah’s most accomplished gymnasts, earning a school record 22 All-American awards, eight regional titles and seven Pac-12 titles in her career.
She is clearly one of the team leaders too. Her demonstrative personality might not win her many fans in the political realm of gymnastics, but she is a crowd favorite at Utah and a well-liked and respected member of the team.
That is enough for her, she said.
“I compete for this team,” she said. “I love what I can do for it and to be a part of this amazing legacy, I am just really happy.”
Utah coach Tom Farden said the Utes would support Skinner in whatever her decision is.
“We would help her as much as the NCAA rules would allow us to do,” he said.
If she decides to focus on the Olympics, Skinner could return to the Utes in a year. But it would be hard to imagine she could return and perform at the same level she is now, especially considering she already deferred a year to prepare for the 2016 Olympics. Harder still to imagine she would be satisfied with anything but her current high level.