SALT LAKE CITY — The No. 3 Red Rocks remain undefeated on the season after narrowly defeating the No. 3 UCLA Bruins 198.075-198.025 Sunday afternoon at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California.
The two squads have a long rivalry as the top programs in the Pac-12, but after losing to the Bruins (8-3, 3-2) the last few meets, Utah (9-0, 5-0) got its revenge on the road to score its first 198 score of the season against a formidable conference foe. The squads each shared season-best performances in the top 5 contest, but Utah never trailed.
The Red Rocks were led by Cristal Isa, who ended the meet with a second-place finish in the all-around results with a score of 39.600. Though the Red Rocks got the win, it was UCLA’s Kyla Ross who claimed the all-around victory with a 39.825 score, and UCLA Felicia Hano 38.900 to place third.
Utah held onto a narrow lead heading into the last rotation, the beam, where the Red Rocks have been solid all season. The Red Rocks finished its final rotation with a nation-best 49.775 score behind a perfect 10.0 score by Abbey Paulson, which is Utah’s first perfect score since the 2008 season.
Each of the Red Rocks’ gymnasts scored better than a 9.800 to dominant the match and claim a victory over a Bruins team that won the NCAA championship in 2018 and claimed a third-place finish last season. Behind Paulson’s perfect score, Adrienne Randall landed a 9.975 and Alexia Burch and Isa scored 9.950 to lead the Utes.
"Our balance beam rotation was incredible," Utah head coach Tom Farden said. "For our beam team to set the school record and be etched into a program filled with such great history is very special for these student-athletes."
UCLA’s Grace Glenn, who only performed on the balance beam Sunday, also scored a perfect 10.0 on the beam, the Bruins’ third rotation of the night. Ross managed a near perfect score on the beam, a 9.975, to help lift the Bruins to a season-high 49.525 on beam.
Utah kicked things off on the bars, where Kim Tessen scored a team-high 9.950 score to lead a squad that had five gymnasts score a 9.90 or better. Isa and Burch landed a 9.925 to lift Utah to a season-high 49.600 score on bars to give Utah the early lead and set the tone for the afternoon.
"The fast start on bars definitely helped our momentum tonight," Farden said. "I felt that our team was very focused and we really appeared to be together as a team tonight. We didn't let the big crowd or intensity of the competition change how we competed and that is certainly a positive sign for this young team."
The Red Rocks remained solid on the vault, where Tessen and Burch landed a 9.90 score, and Isa and Missy Reinstadtler landed 9.80 scores to give Utah a 49.225 score on the rotation. But the intensity increased for the Red Rocks who managed a 49.475 on the floor to keep the Bruins from entering the last rotation with a lead.
Sydney Soloski stole the show with a 9.950 routine to lead the Red Rocks to their season best on floor. Randall and Maile O’Keefe added scores of 9.90, and Paulson added a 9.80 score to enter the final rotation leading the Bruins 148.300-148.225.
"On floor, we competed a little inward and weren't as aggressive as we would have liked to have been," Farden said.
Utah returns to action Sunday, March 1 at Washington in the penultimate Pac-12 meet of the season before the conference championship. The meet starts at 3 p.m. MST and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.