When looking at Utah’s upcoming schedule, gymnastics coach Tom Farden laughs and notes the league took his advice when determining opponents.
“My proposal was we should never have more than three weekends in a row on the road,” he said. “They followed that to a ’T.’”
That the league administrators did, but they still saddled Utah with a difficult Pac-12 schedule since four of the next five meets are on the road.
The Utes compete at No. 21 Arizona on Saturday, travel to No. 10 California next week, host No. 25 Oregon State on Feb. 15, and then compete at No. 3 UCLA on Feb. 23 before finishing the stretch with a meet at No. 11 Washington on March 1.
“This is when the rubber meets the road,” Farden said. “Being on the road can reveal a lot about a team so I am looking forward to this.”
In the past the Utes have used road trips as a chance to bond. Farden plans to continue to do that with fun activities planned outside of the gym such as scavenger hunts, creative photo contests and so forth.
“You have less distractions on the road so it will be good, especially with a young team,” Farden said. “It can do a lot for the team chemistry.”
Being on the road presents some challenges for the Utes since they will be in unfamiliar arenas and without their home crowd. Most teams worry about competing in front of hostile crowds on the road, but for the Utes the concern is competing in front of much smaller crowds than they are accustomed.
“It can definitely be harder because you don’t have 15,000 fans cheering you on,” junior Alexia Burch said. “But we are excited to go on the road and show what we can do.”
Utah and UCLA traditionally are the top teams in the Pac-12, but Farden said the league is improving. That improvement should give the Utes some good experience before the post season begins.
“UCLA and Cal are both off to good starts and Washington popped off a big score (197.225) the other night so there is a good amount of parity in the conference,” he said.
Ranking Team Average
1. Oklahoma 197.795
2. Florida 197.525
3. UCLA 196.933
4. Utah 196.825
5. Denver 196.819
6. LSU 196.7
7. Alabama 196.667
8. Minnesota and Michigan 196.55
10. California 196.388
11. Washington 196.283
12. Kentucky 196.25
13. Georgia 196.219
14. Arkansas 196.106
15. BYU 196.069
16. Iowa St. 196.058
17. Nebraska 196.056
18. Auburn 195.994
19. Maryland 195.842
20. Missouri 195.838
21. Arizona 195.638
22. Illinois 195.563
23. SUU 195.481
24. West Virginia 195.283
25. Oregon St. 195.263