The fourth Utah gymnastics team defeats the third Oklahoma

The advantage on the balance beam helps Utes win at the Huntsman Center

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Grace McCallum of Utah will perform a beam at the Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics Meet at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, January 7, 2022.

Another year, different expectations and a different roster, but for the Utah gymnastics team, one thing remained the same on Friday – working on the balance beam is still impossible.

The fourth Utes used their favorite Friday game to defeat Oklahoma No. 3 197,775-196,65 in front of 10,804 fans at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes led only 98.8-98.775 on the balance beam, but overall led 49.475 and took the lead with a lead of 148.275-147.975.

It was exactly the performance the Utes had hoped for.

“We were fourth in the pre-season, so people thought we would be pretty good, but we wanted to show them we’re not just fourth,” Sydney Soloski said. “We wanted to show the whole gymnastics conference that we are a force to be reckoned with and we will only improve.”

Individual winners

Jump: Jordan Bowers (Oklahoma) 9,975

Uneven bars: Sage Thompson (Utah) and Audrey Davis (Oklahoma) 9,925

Balance: Ragan Smith (Oklahoma) 9,975

floor: Grace McCallum (Utah) 9,975

Combat: Grace McCallum (Utah) 39,675

Utes powered the beam with 9.925 s from Cristal Isa, Grace McCallum and Maile O’Keefe and 9.9 from Abby Paulson.

It was exactly the kind of effort fans had come to see from Utes, who finished third in 2021 at the event and second in 2020.

It’s no surprise that Utah is doing so well, after all, Utah returns several strong veterans, such as Isa, O’Keefe, Paulson and Adrienne Randall, but it was reassuring for Utes to see freshmen Amelie Morgan (9.75) and McCallum. under tremendous pressure so well.

“As we all know, the beam can be a separator,” said Utah coach Tom Farden.

As at the Best of Utah meeting, the Utes gave the freshmen the task of being first at Friday’s event.

Friday’s atmosphere was completely different than at the beginning of the season, when the Utes knew they would win if it weren’t for some crazy breakdown.

This time, the Utes had the most successful sports program in recent seasons, which challenged them.

It was impressive how embarrassing the Utes were. McCallum later admitted that she was still getting used to the atmosphere at the Huntsman Center, let alone the whole idea of ​​college gymnastics.

“The transition was harder than I thought it would be,” McCallum said. “As an elite, you go on as many difficulties as you can, and in college it’s perfection, so it’s a completely different mindset.”

Once the Utes were on the floor, they competed as a team that knew they would win because they looked comfortable and relaxed in the final tournament.

McCallum put the fans on their feet with 9,975 and they stayed there, Jaedyn Rucker followed him with 9,925, O’Keefe recorded 9.85 and Soloski 9.925 for 49.5 per event.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, was worried about the balance beam. Although Ragan Smith had the best score on the balance beam (9,975), the Sooners suffered two falls and reached 48,675. The Sooners seemed to have been shaken by the hoarse Utah crowd, or perhaps just in an unusual position to be left behind.

For the Utes, getting such a high score at the beginning of the season was as satisfying as defeating a national opponent.

“We want to compete with the teams that knocked on the door of the national championship,” Farden said. “They are a well-trained team and it was a hit for us. It means that it is the next step in this process, but hopefully we have 15 steps that will take us where we want. ”

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