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Laura Seitz, KSL

No. 3 Utah gymnastics wins 40th-straight over BYU with season highs

By Holli Joyce, Contributor | Updated - Jan 11th, 2019 @ 11:55pm | Posted - Jan 11th, 2019 @ 10:55pm

PROVO — No. 3 Utah pulled off season highs on three of four events in its 197.25-196.475 victory, earning its 40th-straight win over BYU on Friday.

The Red Rocks clinched a score in the 197s in their first two meets of the season, making it the first time in school history.

Utah never trailed, but BYU put the team under pressure going into the meet’s last rotation. But the Red Rocks were unfazed as the beam team hit all its routines to secure the win.

“I was pleased that we finished with a really good beam set under pressure on the road in front of a big, loud crowd,” Utah co-head coach Tom Farden said.

MyKayla Skinner’s 39.60 all-around performance topped the scoreboard as MaKenna Merrell-Giles placed second with a 39.475 performance. Skinner also won event titles on vault (9.975), bars (9.875) and floor (9.95).

Utah’s night started rocky with a fall on its first routine. Kim Tessen performed beautifully on bars but dropped to her knees on her dismount, resulting in a dreaded 9.10. The Red Rocks were immediately under pressure and forced to have strong routines from the rest of the lineup to drop Tessen’s score.

Hunter Dula (9.75) followed Tessen in the lineup and looked good in her collegiate debut, especially considering the situation. She was added to the lineup during warmups in place of Kari Lee.

“Hunter did a great job going in at the last minute,” Farden said. “We said we were going to change lineups a lot this season and we did tonight. Every lineup had different gymnasts or a different order from a week ago. When the last four competitors stuck their landings, I knew we were going to fight to the finish.”

From there, Merrell-Giles swung her way to a 9.825, followed by a pair of 9.85s from Missy Reinstadtler and Cristal Isa. Skinner rounded out the lineup with a 9.875 to lock in a 49.15 bars score.

Utah had a narrow 49.15-49.05 lead after the first rotation.

The Red Rocks forgot their woes once on vault. Their lowest score to count was Lee’s 9.85. Macey Roberts landed herself a career-best 9.90, which Merrell-Giles matched. Alexia Burch also locked in a career-high with 9.875. It was Skinner, once again, who nailed her double-twisting Yurchenko for a 9.975 to lead Utah to a season-best 49.50.

Utah’s big vault score helped extend its lead at the meet’s midway point to 98.65-98.125.

Tight scoring took place when Utah was on the floor while BYU nailed its beam set. Only Merrell-Giles (9.90) and Skinner (9.95) were able to break a 9.90. Judges gave Sydney Soloski a 9.825 while Roberts and Lee earned 9.85 and 9.875 respectively. Despite the lower scores, the Red Rocks racked up a season-high 49.40 on the event to keep its lead 148.05-147.45 heading into the last rotation.

But it was freshman Adrienne Randall’s beam routine who sealed Utah’s win over its in-state rival. In the fifth spot of the lineup, Randall posted a 9.875 after a clean and confident performance to help the Red Rocks earn a season-best 49.20 on the event.

“During club, my beam coach always put me last so I was glad to be back in that spot,” Randall said.

Next for Utah is a visit to Oregon State on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. MST.

Holli Joyce

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