Utah gymnasts’ reward after big win over UCLA: They fall behind the Bruins in the rankings

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Sydney Soloski on the floor for University of Utah in January. The Utes are celebrating their victory over UCLA, but they dropped in the rankings behind the Bruins anyway, under a new ranking system that took hold this week.

The maddening thing about statistics in collegiate gymnastics is the numbers don’t always tell the story.

Take this week, for instance. The Utes just beat UCLA on the Bruins’ home floor but instead of being ranked ahead of the Pac-12 foe, Utah is ranked No. 4 with a 197.2 average. That’s a spot behind the Bruins, who are in third with a 197.335 average. Last week, the teams were tied, so what gives?

Welcome to the new set of rankings. Instead of going off season averages, in which all scores count, the rankings this week switched to the national qualifying score, which is a formula in which a team’s six best scores are taken, three of which must be on the road. The high score is tossed out and the remaining five scores are averaged.

This average is then used to seed teams into the regional competitions.

So while the Utes are still celebrating their win over UCLA with a well-deserved day off, they might be doing so mildly irritated they are still below the Bruins.

“To the fan that doesn’t understand the system and how it is calibrated, when you have two teams go against each other and the one that wins is ranked lower, it can seem silly,” Utah coach Tom Farden said. “But it is what it is. We have kicked away some opportunities, and we didn’t take advantage of others.”

The Utes still have some chances to get that score up before the postseason begins. The regular season winds down with a meet Sunday at No. 13 Washington, followed by home meets against Stanford and Utah State. Both Stanford and Utah State are outside of the Top 25, sitting in the No. 26 and No. 30 spots, respectively.

Sunday’s 198.075-198.025 win over the Bruins was the first time since the 2018 season the Utes have broken the 198 mark in the regular season. To keep pace with those ranked ahead of them — Oklahoma (197.93), Florida (197.69) and UCLA — the Utes would love to break that 198 mark a couple of more times.

The good news is, as impressive as Sunday’s win was, there are areas in which the Utes can gain more tenths. Freshman Jillian Hoffman fell on the floor, and others had steps on the vault landings.

“I hate being critical of our performance, but we did have a question mark on floor,” Farden said. “What if Jillian had hit and set up Maile (O’Keefe) and Sydney (Soloski) for bigger scores. You can’t help but go there. But then, I know what it is going to take to reach all our goals.”

Top 25 Rankings

Ranking Team NQS

1. Oklahoma 197.93.

2. Florida 197.69.

3. UCLA 197.335.

4. Utah 197.2.

5. LSU 197.165.

6. Denver 197.075.

7. Michigan 197.045.

8. California 196.98.

9. Alabama 196.965.

10. Georgia 196.9.

11. Minnesota 196.845.

12. Kentucky 196.665.

13. Washington 196.575.

14. Arkansas 196.43.

15. Auburn 196.4.

16. Nebraska 196.395.

17. Iowa St. 196.295.

18. Oregon St. 196.26.

19. BYU 196.235.

20. Missouri 196.23.

21. SUU 195.795.

22. Illinois 195.78.

23. Penn St. 195.745.

24. Arizona 195.725.

25. Michigan St. 195.71.