If No. 3 Utah gymnasts get past 13th-ranked Washington, an unbeaten season is in the offing

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Cristal Isa on the beam as the University of Utah hosts Arizona State, NCAA gymnastics in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020.

Upsetting UCLA at Pauley Pavilion a week ago not only gave Utah’s gymnastics team a win to boast about, it put the Utes on the verge of a historic season.

With just three meets left in the season, including Sunday’s competition at No. 13 Washington, the Utes (9-0, 5-0) have a very real chance of finishing the regular season undefeated. That is something the they have only achieved once before, in 1993.

The Utes also have home meets against Stanford and Utah State remaining, but those teams aren’t ranked in the Top 25, leaving Washington (6-1-1, 4-0-1) as the only realistic possible spoiler to an undefeated season.

Going undefeated wasn’t necessarily a goal the Utes set at the beginning of the season, but now that it is attainable, they acknowledge it is on their radar.

“We need to keep doing what we are doing,” Cristal Isa said. “But we have proven our normal can beat even a great UCLA team. So we just need to stay consistent. It didn’t click in our brains that it meant we could be undefeated, but that would be so cool.”

Washington isn’t a team to be taken lightly. The Huskies also beat UCLA on its home floor and upset Cal earlier in the year as well. The Huskies are coming off a 196.875 tie with Arizona State.

“They are absolutely a good team and well coached,” Utah coach Tom Farden said. “We have to go in there sharp and ready for battle again. The athletes know they have a target on their back now.”

To their credit, the Utes don’t seem to be getting complacent or overlooking the Huskies. Utah set a school record on the beam of 49.775 at UCLA, but they are still frustrated they left some tenths behind in vault landings and with a fall on the floor.

Correcting those mistakes is more on their mind than a win, Adrienne Randall said.

“We are coming off a big score, but we are hungry for more,” the sophomore said. “We want it keep it rolling. We aren’t ones to boast about things and we just need to keep our head down and keep grinding and make it happen.”

Farden doesn’t mind the team acknowledging the Utes could go undefeated. He’ll use anything as motivation as long as it means a good effort.

“In their minds they are in a position to control their destiny,” he said. “We want to finish out and run the table cleanly.”

The Utes have never lost at Washington, although they had to settle for a tie twice, in 2001 and 2013.

“We are excited,” Randall said. “We are in a good place as a team and it is always fun to go up against a Pac-12 school.”


At Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle

When • Sunday, 3 p.m. MST

TV • Pac-12 Networks

Records • Washington (6-1-1, 4-0-1); Utah (9-0, 5-0)

Series • Utah leads 60-0-2

Last meeting • Utah won, 197.7-196.25, Feb. 3, 2018

Of note • The Huskies’ season high was a 197.225 against Cal…Washington’s Evanni Roberson is ranked No. 15 in the all-around…Utah assistant Carly Dockendorf competed at Washington from 2002-05…Utah’s beam team has scored 49.6 or higher in its last three meets..Kim Tessen leads the Utes with eight wins…Utah has hit 159-of-168 routines with Maile O’Keefe leading the team hitting 24-for-24.

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