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As regional host, No. 6 Red Rocks draw favorable pairing that includes likely showdown with No. 3 LSU

Utahâ??s Maile Oâ??Keefe competes on the beam during the Pac-12 gymnastics championships in West Valley City on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)


4 photos

SALT LAKE CITY — At the venue where the Red Rocks claimed its fourth Pac-12 Championship Saturday, Utah will get the opportunity to again make a splash at regionals as the host of one of four sites around the country at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

The Red Rocks, which finished the season ranked No. 6 in the NQS rankings and undefeated in conference play, will host No. 3 LSU, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 14 Kentucky on April 2. Other teams joining in on the three-day regional event in Utah include Boise State, Southern Utah, Utah State, Temple and Arizona.

Temple and Arizona will kickoff the Salt Lake City regionals with a play-in meet on Thursday, April 1, for a chance to compete against LSU, Kentucky and Utah State in the second session on Friday (7 p.m. MT, ESPN3). In the early session Friday (1 p.m. MT, ESPN3), Utah will compete against Arizona State, Boise State and Southern Utah. The Red Rocks already defeated Arizona State and Southern Utah this season.

The Red Rocks laid claim to nine Pac-12 champions amongst its athletes this season, the most ever for the program, and was headlined by sophomore gymnast Maile O'Keefe, who won in four of the five events, including the all around. O'Keefe finished the regular season tied for sixth in the country in the all around, as well as second on beam and tied for 11th on bars.

The LSU Tigers come to the Salt Lake City regional with a 5-3 overall record and 4-3 record in conference play on the season, including a loss to Kentucky (197.100-196.800) in the penultimate conference meet of the season for the Tigers. LSU finished in second in the SEC, narrowly losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Saturday.

Despite the three losses on the season, the Tigers recorded high all-around scores to end the season with a 197.813 team NQS rating and feature talented all-around gymnast Haleigh Bryant, who finished the season ranked ninth in the individual all-around competition — just three spots lower than Utah's O'Keefe. The Tigers also feature Kiya Johnson, who ranks No. 1 on floor this season and is one of three gymnasts to record a perfect 10 on the event.

Red Rocks fans are familiar with Arizona State, who finished with a 5-5 record, as Utah met up with the Sun Devils twice this season — both of which were wins. Kentucky finished the season with a 6-4 overall record, with two losses to No. 7 Alabama, No. 1 Florida and No. 18 Georgia.

The NCAA announced earlier in the month that fans may be permitted to be in attendance for sporting events in states where restrictions allow it. The Maverik Center, according to the University of Utah, will allow up to 2,500 fans at the regional. Ticket information will be released Tuesday at 8 a.m., according to the university.

The remaining regional pairings, which were announced Monday afternoon on NCAA.com, are as follows:

  • Athens Regional: 1-Florida, 8-Minnesota, 9-Denver, 16-Illinois, Central Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina State, Oregon State and Western Michigan
  • Tuscaloosa Regional: 2-Oklahoma, 7-Alabama*, 10-Arkansas, 15-Auburn, Eastern Michigan, Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland and Missouri
  • Morgantown Regional: 4-Michigan, 5-California, 12-BYU, 13-UCLA, Kent State, Ohio State, Penn State, Towson and West Virginia

Each regional site features four teams from the top 16 seeds in the country, with an additional five teams geographically placed from seeds 17 to 36. The two lowest-seeded teams at each regional site will compete in a two-team meet on April 1 for a chance to be a part of the eight-team meet on Friday. From there, four teams will advance to a final meet Saturday to determine nationals on April 16-17.

BYU, who finished the season with a No. 12 seed, was paired in the Morgantown regional due to finishing in the top 16. Had it dropped to No. 17 or lower, the Cougars would have been paired at the Salt Lake City regional due to its geographical location.

Seeds 1-16

  1. Oklahoma (197.944)
  2. Florida (197.944)
  3. LSU (197.813)
  4. Michigan (197.800)
  5. California (197.613)
  6. Utah (197.556)*
  7. Alabama (197.538)*
  8. Minnesota (197.431)
  9. Denver (197.344)
  10. Arkansas (197.225)
  11. Arizona State (197.088)
  12. BYU (197.069)
  13. UCLA (197.038)
  14. Kentucky (196.969)
  15. Auburn (196.875)
  16. Illinois (196.863)

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