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Utah gymnastics named No. 2 seed for Pac-12 championships

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Utah gymnastics named No. 2 seed for Pac-12 championships

By Holli Joyce, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Mar. 13, 2017 at 10:56 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah gymnastics team finished the regular season fifth in the nation. Now, the Red Rocks are headed to the Pac-12 gymnastics championships as the No. 2 seed.

Utah, which tied with UCLA for its fourth-straight Pac-12 regular-season title, will compete in the evening session of the conference championship. No. 1 seed UCLA, No. 3 Oregon State and No. 4 Washington round out the rest of the latter session. Seeds 5-8 (California, Arizona, Stanford and Arizona State) will compete in the championship’s afternoon session.

The Red Rocks will start their competition on bars, then rotate to beam, floor and vault. They finished the regular season ranking in the top 10 on every event — fifth on vault, seventh on bars, sixth on beam and fourth on floor.

The competition is sure to be fierce as five of the eight Pac-12 teams are ranked in the nation’s top 25 — No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Utah, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 15 Washington and No. 16 California. However, Utah has an edge over conference opponents. Since the program’s existence, it’s won 85 percent of its all-time meets against Pac-12 teams with a 348-61-5 record.

Despite being a young team, with just one senior on the roster, Utah suffered only one conference loss this season, at Oregon State. The Beavers scored 9.925 on their last routine to slide past Utah, 196.55-196.525.

“Our newcomers are so talented. They bring the passion and fire to this team,” senior Baely Rowe said. “We’ve talked about this team — how it’s different and has a different attitude, but it’s a good fire we bring to this team. It’s amazing what the newcomers have brought. They all bring power, finesse, elegance. They bring a lot to the table.”

Utah is one of three teams to win the Pac-12 championship, winning back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015. UCLA earned the trophy in 2012 and 2016, while Oregon State locked in a win in 2013. The Red Rocks are also the only team to finish in the top three all five years of the Pac-12 championships, including two first-place finishes and two second-place finishes.

As if the Utes aren’t dominating enough, four of the five Pac-12 all-around champions crowned to date have been from Utah — Corrie Lothrop (2012), Tory Wilson (2014), Georgia Dabritz (2015) and Breanna Hughes (2016).

Another Utah gymnast is favored to continue the Red Rock’s tradition of winning the conference all-around title. Freshman MyKayla Skinner finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the all-around, averaging 39.65. Nicknamed “Winner Skinner,” she won 9 of 10 regular season all-around and vault titles.

“Skinner is a world-class athlete and, obviously, we’re pleased she’s with us,” Utah co-head coach Tom Farden said.

Skinner is also pleased to be with the team.

“College gymnastics is so fun, and I feel like it’s the perfect fit for me,” Skinner said.

The Pac-12 championships take place in Stanford, California, and will air on Pac-12 Networks. The first session begins at 1 p.m. MDT with the second session starting at 7 p.m. MDT.

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