Red Rocks continue perfect season, celebrate 40 years

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's the middle of the season and the fourth-ranked Utah gymnastics team remains undefeated (6-0, 2-0 Pac-12). It's coming off a tremendous win against Pac-12 rival Arizona, scoring its season-best overall score (197.85) thanks to nine of 13 gymnasts earning career-bests in at least one event.

“It was a huge win and a lot of fun," said co-head coach Megan Marsden. "We felt like the girls finally unleashed and did what we have seen in training,”

The Utes’ score ties with top-ranked Oklahoma’s season-high score. Marsden described the score as reassuring to know the team is at the very top.

“As much as it’s difficult, it is the way we have move to the postseason to the Super Six,” she added.

Nationally, the Red Rocks are ranked fourth on bars and beam, fifth on vault and tied for sixth on floor.

Floor ranking the lowest is no surprise to the team. Before the season began, the coaches decided not to do a lot of hard landings on the floor mat. The goal: keeping the athletes healthy throughout the long season.

It was a huge win and a lot of fun. We felt like the girls finally unleashed and did what we have seen in training.

–Megan Marsden

“We use the meet season to improve our landings,” said Marsden. “We make sure our girls are going to be safe during their tumbling passes. We aren’t feeling that someone’s going to land on their face or back or head, but that they may not land to just a perfect lunge.”

The nature of the sport is subjective. If a gymnast stumbles in the slightest, a judge can mark deductions.

“It’s something each meet that we’ll get better and better and it’ll be there when we need it to be,” Marsden added.

Utah gymnastics seeks to keep the momentum going this Friday against Arizona State (1-6, 0-2 Pac-12). The last time the teams competed against one another co-head coach Greg Marsden became the first 1,000-win coach in college gymnastics history.

Friday’s meet at the Huntsman Center includes another stepping stone for the Utes. Utah will recognize the 40th anniversary of the program with 70 Red Rocks alumni expected to be in attendance.

As for the next 40 years of the program, Marsden says, “It’ll pass hands to someone else and if they put passion and energy into it every day, every month, every year, then they’ll have some of the same accolades as we have.”

Friday’s meet begins at 6 p.m. and will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.

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Holli Joyce


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