Emilie LeBlanc knew she was taking a big chance when she decided to transfer from Maryland. She would be giving up a full scholarship with no idea of what, if any, program would offer her a roster spot, much less scholarship money.

“It was terrifying because I knew it could be a financial burden,” she said. “It was like I was jumping into a void and had to have faith it was going to work out.”

That leap of faith led to a perfect landing for LeBlanc, as she now is a member of Utah’s gymnastics team, one of the nation’s most consistently winning programs.

Not only did she receive a scholarship, she has earned the leadoff role on the uneven bars and balance beam. She might be a little surprised at her impact, but not Utah coach Tom Farden.

“I remembered seeing her before because of her personality and liveliness,” he said. “I had seen those attributes many, many years ago and I knew she had a good temperament. She has good NCAA experience so I knew she could help us.”

EMILE LEBLANC AT A GLANCE


Vitals: 5-foot-6, Junior
Hometown: Holly Springs, N.C.
Of note: Competed for Maryland previously, hitting 53-of-58 routines…Won bars twice and beam three times in 2019…Competed on bars and beam as a freshman, winning bars three times…Joined the Utes in August as a transfer…Kinesiology major.

The Utes needed some help with MyKayla Skinner leaving a year early to pursue a spot on the Olympic team. The hope is LeBlanc will provide some steadiness to lineups filled with youth.

So far she has done well, scoring 9.775 on the bars and 9.725 on the beam in Utah’s season opener, then a 9.8 on the bars and 9.825 on the beam.

LeBlanc said she decided to leave Maryland because the program wasn’t pushing her enough, for her taste.

“I wanted a program that wanted it bad,” she said of winning. “I didn’t think I was getting enough out of Maryland and with two years left, I wanted to go make the most of what I had left.”

LeBlanc was attracted to Salt Lake City for the Utes’ program and the surrounding area.

“I’m an outdoorsy person so the mountains caught me for sure,” she said. “But the ambition here too and the dedication to the program. Everyone is so accommodating. They make sure you have the tools you need to be successful.”

LeBlanc was one of Maryland’s top performers on the bars and beam, so she is accustomed to playing an integral role and embraces the chance to do the same for the Utes.

“It can be a stressful position, but I like being first up because you have to trust your gymnastics and it’s rewarding that they trust me,” she said.

LeBlanc trusted herself and it worked out, now it’s the team’s turn to trust her.

NO. 5 UTAH VS. ARIZONA STATE
At the Huntsman Center


When: Friday, 7 p.m.