Fans attending Friday night’s Red Rocks Preview for Utah’s Gymnastics team should make sure they pick up rosters, because even the most veteran fans might have a hard time telling who is who this year.
The Utes, who will hold their free preview at the Huntsman Center on Friday at 7 p.m., have undergone a tremendous amount of change since they finished a disappointing seventh at the NCAA Championships.
Since then, associate head coach Megan Marsden joined her husband Greg in retirement and assistant Robert Ladanyi left to become an assistant at Nebraska, leaving the program in the hands of Farden.
He hired the husband and wife team of Garrett Griffith and Courtney McCool from Arkansas and promoted Carly Dockendorf from Director of Recruiting and Player Development to assistant coach to round out his staff.
On the competitive floor, the Utes not only have to replace four seniors in Kari Lee, Shannon McNatt, MaKenna Merrell-Giles and Macey Roberts, but also MyKayla Skinner who left after her junior year to pursue a spot on the Olympic team.
The fifth-ranked Utes only return 10 of their 24 routines from the NCAA Championships, the fewest amount of returning routines out of the teams that competed at the 2019 NCAAs.
So what will the 2020 version of the team look like when the Utes host Kentucky in the season opener on Jan. 3? Farden doesn’t know for sure, but he likes what he sees so far in practice.
“The biggest thing is there isn’t a replacement for experience, only experience replaces experience,” he said. “They’ve trained well and they’ve had a good preseason.”
All the vacancies means there are plenty of chances for gymnasts to step up. Among those who will have the biggest chances are gymnasts back from injury.
Senior Missy Reinstadtler (ankle), sophomore Cristal Isa (elbow), sophomore Cammy Hall (Achilles) and Kim Tessen (shoulder) have all recovered from injuries and will be expected to play bigger roles.
The Utes also welcome freshmen Jillian Hoffman, Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson and Jaedyn Rucker. All of them except Rucker, who is recovering from ACL surgery, are competing on multiple events.
Farden said Friday’s event will lend some weight to seeing who can add depth and where.
“Fans are going to be intrigued,” he said. “We’re inching closer and closer to being ready on all four events and they are working hard.”
RED ROCKS GYMNASTICS PREVIEW
At the Huntsman Center
When • Friday, 7 p.m.
Admission • Free
TV • Pac-12 Networks