SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Red Rocks may be peaking at just the right time. Coming off their highest postseason score ever at the regionals, the Utah gymnastics team is headed to the NCAA Nationals this week in Fort Worth with a ton of momentum.
“We’re going in with a bit of confidence with our performances at the Pac-12 Championships, then arguably at one of the harder regionals,” said head coach Tom Farden. “We really like where the athletes’ head space is at right now.”
The #4 Utes will face #1 Oklahoma, #5 Alabama and #7 Minnesota on Thursday in the morning session with the top two teams advancing to the finals on Saturday. Utah beat all three of those teams in the regular season, giving them an extra confidence boost.
“I think it is really advantages for us to be able to go in there and focus on ourselves, and not be sizing ourselves up the competition,” said senior Sydney Soloski. “We know who they are, we know what they’re capable of, we know that they’re really good. But we are also really good.”
“It definitely gives us an extra boost of confidence,” added senior Cristal Isa. “But we do have be humble about it. It does not matter what we’ve done in the past, it just matters what we do in the semifinals. So hopefully, fingers crossed, we crush.”
Florida, Michigan, Auburn and Missouri will compete in the evening session on Thursday.
Teams that win national titles usually have to score above 198. Well, the Utes have eclipsed that mark a record four times this season, and they have five gymnasts who have landed perfect 10s. So this team has the talent and depth to bring home its first national title in 27 years.
“I think that definitely boosts our confidence going into the meet, knowing that we can get those big scores,” said freshman and U.S. Olympian Grace McCallum. “Just knowing that if we do what we normally do in the gym everyday, we can achieve that goal.”
“We’ve hit 198.2s without being perfect,” Soloski said. “We’ve hit really high scores without have the meet of our lives. So we know we’re still very, very good even not at our complete best.”
With so many gymnasts able to put up big scores, especially on beam, the Utes say the pressure is off any one gymnast from having to be perfect.
“It is a bit reassuring to know that it doesn’t matter if you have a bad day or a good day,” said Isa. “Someone is going to have a bad day, and it is nice to know our team has our backs. I think this is the team that’s going to do it if it’s any team. I think we have a really good chance this year.”
Thursday’s semifinals take place at 11:00 AM Thursday on ESPN2, with the finals set to air at 11:00 AM Saturday on ABC4.