Grace McCallum stars in Utah gymnasts’ win over Washington

The No. 4 Red Rocks cap off a difficult stretch with another victory

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah’s Grace McCallum spins on the beam during their gymnastics meet with Stanford at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.

Thanks to a post-Olympic tour that caused Grace McCallum to join Utah’s gymnastics team late, the freshman has been a little behind her teammates in training.

It looks like she has caught up.

McCallum put together her second big meet this week as the fourth-ranked Utes defeated Washington 197.95-197.275 Monday in Seattle.

McCallum finished with a 39.775 in the all-around, scoring 9.95s on the vault and floor, a 9.975 on the balance beam and a 9.9 on the uneven bars to earn her career high. The mark also ties Annabeth Eberle (2004), Ashley Postell (2005), Georgia Dabritz (2015) and MyKayla Skinner (2017) for the fifth-highest all-around mark in Utah history.

Suzanne Metz set the school record scoring 39.95 in 1995.

Individual Results

Vault: Grace McCallum (Utah) and Alexia Burch (Utah) 9.95

Uneven bars: Geneva Thompson (Washington) 9.925

Balance beam: Grace McCallum (Utah) 9.975

Floor: Sydney Soloski (Utah) 9.975

All-around: Grace McCallum (Utah) 39.775

On Friday, McCallum scored a 39.625 in the Utes’ win over Oregon State.

One of Utah’s most highly touted recruits, McCallum admitted earlier in the season the adjustment to college was more than she expected.

Not only did she have to make the mental switch to college gymnastics, where hitting clean is emphasized more than packing routines with difficulty, she didn’t have any time for a break since she went from the Olympics to a post-Olympic tour to college.

All those factors might have led to some early inconsistencies as she has had four falls, but it looks like she is coming into form in the second half of the season.

Utah coach Tom Farden said it’s easy to forget someone of McCallum’s caliber still needs to be coached and it is a learning process for the coaches too.

“We are watching her in terms of the cues that work for her and what works in practice and this is a byproduct of what she needs,” he said.

Her surge is perfect timing for the Utes, who want to start firming up rotation orders with just three regular season meets left.

As a team, the Utes are competing better too, scoring the season high of 198 against Oregon State then nearly matching it Monday.

McCallum was set up for her big scores on the bars and beam by fellow freshman Amelie Morgan, who scored a 9.9 on the bars and a 9.95 on the beam in the leadoff position.

If there were any disappointments Monday, it was that the team failed to take advantage of the big start on the bars as the scores slid after the two 9.9s with the Utes scoring just 49.35.

There weren’t any major breaks, but as Farden said, there were plenty of “shoulda coulda woulda” moments, although he acknowledged competing two meets just a couple of days apart was a challenge.

“It was a nice team score on the road,” he said.

After posting a 49.4 on the vault, led by 9.95s from McCallum and Alexia Burch, the Utes closed out with 49.6 on both the beam and floor.

Sydney Soloski led the floor effort with a 9.975 and Adrienne Randall had a 9.95 on the beam to add to the Utes’ highlights there.

“Really for tonight we wanted them to come out here and let the gymnastics happen,” Farden said. “We wanted them to have some fun.”

The Utes have another short week ahead of them since they travel to Arizona for a Friday meet.