When she watched the Pac-12 Networks’ gymnastics coverage from her home in England, Lucy Stanhope was amazed at Utah’s home crowds and wondered what it would be like to compete in the atmosphere.
Well, she is still wondering.
The freshman from Warrington, England, has been cheated out of the experience of competing in a packed Huntsman Center this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but she isn’t letting an empty arena dampen her spirit, or harm her gymnastics for that matter.
The longer the season goes, the more time Stanhope has earned in the lineups.
Stanhope competed on everything except the uneven bars in the last two meets and has proven to be a steady performer. She has scored 9.8 or higher for every vault and has just one score below a 9.825 on the floor.
She has come up big of late for the Utes too, with her 9.825 debut on the balance beam at Arizona State helping the Utes stave off an upset by the Sun Devils.
It’s the kind of season Stanhope had hoped to have, although she admits she wasn’t sure what to expect as a rookie. Before her official visit, Stanhope only knew of Utah gymnastics from watching the Pac-12 Networks. She didn’t know how she’d fit in with the Utes.
“I didn’t know how much I would compete and to be in three events was a little surprising for me,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect at all coming into the season.”
Utah coach Tom Farden said he learned much of what he needed to know about Stanhope when he watched her compete in Boston in a cold gym.
“I was cold and I am from Minnesota,” he said. “But she never complained about that environment, she was so focused on her gymnastics and the task at hand and I was excited about coaching her.”
Stanhope hasn’t disappointed.
She has been a part of Utah’s vault lineup from the beginning of the season, but she arguably has made her biggest impact on the beam and floor.
The Utes needed some help on beam with senior Emilie LeBlanc struggling, so they moved Alexia Burch into the leadoff spot and Stanhope into the second slot.
UTAH VS. CALIFORNIA
At the Huntsman Center
When • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Networks
Thus far she has handled the pressure well, scoring a 9.775 against the Bruins to go with the 9.825 debut, which Stanhope said was a ‘special moment,’ for her.
“I knew it really helped the team,” she said. “That made me so happy.”
Her routine is at once strong in scoring possibilities and whimsical too, including a tip to her heritage as she pretends to take a sip of tea.
Of course Stanhope wishes the Huntsman Center was packed with fans to see she and her teammates compete, but the situation hasn’t detracted too much from her rookie experience.
“Gymnastics is so much more fun and enjoyable,” she said. “It’s amazing to have a team bond in the gym like we have.”