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Utes gymnasts Alexia Burch, Sydney Soloski announce return for another season

Sydney Soloski competes on floor during the Utah Red Rocks’ competition against Oregon State at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

(Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News, File)



SALT LAKE CITY — The year 2020 was one that many hope to forget, but the year wasn't all bad for the Utah gymnastics team as it will allow for more time with two of its best athletes.

On Wednesday, two days before the No. 5 Red Rocks close out the regular season in a home meet against No. 20 Utah State, seniors Alexia Burch and Sydney Soloski announced their decision to return for another year.

The decision was made possible after the NCAA granted all seniors the opportunity to return for another season, often dubbed "super seniors," due to the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 on all collegiate sports.

Utah gets two of its best athletes for another season, and Burch and Soloski get another year to compete in the sport they love — potentially in a more normal setting for the 2022 season.

"With COVID-19 taking away the end of my junior year, and then completely changing how senior year looked, I was thrilled to get the news that we were granted a fifth year," Burch said in a statement. "I could not be more excited to stay with this program and these girls for an extra year!"

Soloski echoed Burch's sentiment, saying: "I came to Utah to compete in front of the best 15,000 fans in the nation and that's how I want to go out. I don't fully know what next year has in store, but I'm optimistic we will be back in the Huntsman (Center) with fans, and there is no greater feeling than having thousands of people cheering you on while you do the sport you love."

There's still no guarantee that the 2022 season will look any different than the 2021 season, but mass production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines gives hope for a season with fans back in the stands to cheer on their favorite gymnasts.

The pair have been key members of Utah's regular season Pac-12 championship, with Burch scoring high in several events this year and Soloski being a consistent anchor on floor. Soloski's 9.925 score on floor against UCLA helped the Red Rocks edge past a conference rival and stay undefeated on the season.

The Red Rocks will conclude their regular season Friday at the Huntsman Center against Utah State at 7 p.m. MST. The meet will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

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