Utah gymnast Kim Tessen has had an incredibly strong senior season, earning nine wins for the fourth-ranked Utes. Friday night, the Orem native earned perfection.
Tessen, ranked No. 10 nationally on the vault, earned a 10.0 on the event to lead the Utes past Stanford 197.75-196.725 in front of 15,558 fans at the Huntsman Center.
Tessen becomes the 10th Utah gymnast to earn a perfect score on the vault and the first since MaKenna Merrell-Giles did so in 2018.
Freshman Abby Paulson was the first Ute to score a 10.0 this season, doing so on the balance beam against UCLA.
Tessen said she is aware there are only a few weeks left in her collegiate career and she is determined to do her best.
“I know senior week is next week, but every time I walk out of that tunnel I get full body chills,” Tessen said of competing in the Huntsman Center. “It’s a surreal time for me because I know I only have a couple more times to do the sport I love and I went out tonight knowing that. When I landed that, I knew it was going to be big and amazing.”
Tessen has been one of the Utes’ most consistent gymnasts on the vault this year, scoring six 9.9 or higher marks out of nine efforts.
Last year Tessen was solid on the vault, earning two 9.9s, but she has enjoyed a new level this season.
“Last year I had injuries and I was sick, so my training was inconsistent and therefore the competition was inconsistent,” Tessen said. “This year I have been able to work hard in the gym and it has paid off.”
Utah coach Tom Farden said Tessen is a stronger gymnast mentally as well.
“She used to wait for things to come to her and now she goes out after them,” he said. “Her attitude has changed to one that she believes she is one of the best gymnasts in the NCAA and she is going to go out and show you right now.”
Tessen’s routine was the highlight of a night in which the Utes excelled in spots and struggled in others. Utah ended the meet on the floor where it scored 49.35, but was admittedly flat. Tessen filled in for Sydney Soloski after Soloski slightly injured her leg on the vault and scored a 9.9. Adrienne Randall had a 9.9 as well, but other gymnasts had some uncharacteristic minor deductions.
Farden wasn’t too concerned though given the tough schedule the Utes had in February.
“The thing is, they have been locked in emotionally for so long,” he said. “They just beat the top half of the Pac-12 at their place meet after meet after meet, and they were a little flat tonight.”
Farden plans to give the Utes a little extra time off before prepping for the regular-season finale against Utah State in a week.
“We are at that juncture where you have to prescribe rest, nutrition and work and all those variables,” he said. “It’s important to give them two days off to let them recharge and get off their legs.”
Tessen was set up for her perfect score with a 9.95 from Cammy Hall and a 9.9 from Alexia Burch.
The Utes added a 49.325 on the uneven bars to lead 98.85-98.275 at the halfway mark. Cristal Isa had the team high on the bars with a 9.9.
Beam continued to be strong for the Utes as they earned a 49.55, paced by a 9.975 from Maile O’Keefe and 9.925s from Isa and Abby Paulson.
Vault: Kim Tessen (Utah) 10.0
Uneven bars: Cristal Isa (Utah) and Grace Waguespack (Stanford) 9.9
Balance beam: Maile O’Keefe (Utah) 9.975
Floor: Kyla Bryant (Stanford) 9.95
All-around: Kyla Bryant (Stanford) 39.55