Utes seeing transfer portal’s impact on college gymnastics

The Red Rocks have said goodbye to Jillian Hoffman, Lucy Stanhope and Sage Thompson in recent days.

Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden said there would be shifts as he looked ahead to the 2023-24 season, predicting roster changes and lineup shakeups.

It looks like the shifts have started to occur as Lucy Stanhope, Jillian Hoffman and Sage Thompson are all looking to continue their collegiate careers elsewhere after helping the Utes to a third-place finish at the 2023 NCAA Championships.

Farden doesn’t believe it’s time for the Utes to panic by any means.

The Utes lost Cammy Hall to LSU via the portal last year but gained Abby Brenner from Michigan and she became a crucial participant in the Utes’ 2023 success.

“Using the portal became normalized in basketball and football and now it’s starting to wrap its arms around all the sports,” Farden said. “It’s not a time to panic, making shifts is part of the status quo.”

So too is the search for more time.

Hoffman competed regularly on the vault for the Utes, Stanhope competed in five meets on the vault and Thompson was a regular in the uneven bars lineup.

Farden didn’t want to go into specifics of each gymnasts’ decisions, other than thanking them for their efforts and “wishing them the best.”

Instead, he preferred to look forward, with the Utes welcoming Elizabeth Ganter, Camie Winger, Olivia Kennedy and Ella Zirbes as the rookie class of 2023-24.

Ganter was the 2021 Level 10 national champion on bars and beam and runner-up in the all-around and Winger was the Level 10 runner-up on the bars in 2021 and floor in 2022 and Zirbes is a former elite gymnast who competed in the 2019 World Championship trials while Kennedy will help the Utes on vault.

Utah will also have 2022 NCAA vault champion Jaedyn Rucker, Abby Paulson and Maile O’Keefe, who won the NCAA all-around title this year, back for fifth years.

So while the Utes are in the midst of these shifts, they remained well stocked on all events.

Even so, Farden isn’t enjoying much downtime, hitting the road recruiting as much as he can.

“You have to plan for the unexpected,” he said.