No. 2 Red Rocks get past 'wild' night to defeat visiting Arizona State


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SALT LAKE CITY β€” Going into the third rotation of the night, No. 2 Utah had a comfortable lead over a visiting No. 13 Arizona State team.

What was left? Beam and floor β€” two of the Red Rocks' best events.

The traditionally solid beam team was anything but to start as freshman Amelie Morgan scored a low 9.775 after a balance check and a small hop on her landing. But that score would prove to be one of the better ones of the rotation as freshman Grace McCallum slipped off the beam and Adrienne Randall and Abby Paulson saved themselves from a similar situation but scored low.

That comfortable lead (98.700-98.400) after the first two events was suddenly in jeopardy a week after a dominant win over Oklahoma. There was even question as to whether there was fault equipment with all the missteps happening in the same spot β€” even when Arizona State performed on beam.

"I thought it was the strangest thing. I kept watching it," Utah head coach Tom Farden said.

But all that changed in an instant when senior Cristal Isa saved the event in the fifth spot.

Isa executed a near flawless routine, stuck her landing and scored a career high 9.975 to reset a troubling trend on beam. Her performance was met with the loudest cheers of the night as the 10,752 fans in attendance at the Huntsman Center knew what was at stake. The veteran delivered.

All that was left was the always consistent Maile O'Keefe to hit on her routine and the Red Rocks staved off trouble. The junior did her job and finished with a 9.950 score to keep the Red Rocks just about the 49 mark with a 49.025 team score.

In the end, that short scare in the third rotation was nothing to be worried about as the Red Rocks finished out the night strong on floor to defeat the visiting Sun Devils 197.400-196.100 and to stay undefeated on the season.

"We've got to put together four events β€” we did it last weekend," Farden said. "We've got to come into their warmups β€” I didn't like warmups to be honest with you. I felt the vibe from the very beginning, and as coaches we've got to help them get a little bit more prepared in terms of being a little more intentional and coming out of the gates.

"I know when they're on it β€” that was last weekend; and I know when they've got some quirks β€” that was this weekend."

And despite the adversity on beam, in which Farden said he didn't feel like his team was "very aggressive," the Red Rocks recorded season highs on bars (49.425) and floor (49.675).

"There's always a lesson," O'Keefe said. "You can't overlook who you're going against. You can't overlook what you're doing. We can't just say, 'Oh, we're going against so and so,' and be OK with that. We have to focus on what we're doing and know that we're competing against everybody else in the NCAA still on that weekend.

"You can either do mad destructive or mad decisive. You can either break yourself down and create a bigger problem or you can say, 'Okay, I'm going to flip a switch and do what I know how to do.' And I feel like that's where Cristal and I came from."

Following Utah's wild third rotation, Jillian Hoffman carried the momentum built by Isa and O'Keefe and delivered on the floor. The junior went out and performed a near flawless routine and scored a 9.975 in the leadoff position. Hoffman delivered and the rest followed.

"I just like told myself, just trust your training and you can do it and just be confident," Hoffman said.

Jaedyn Rucker delivered a 9.925, and O'Keefe and Sydney Soloski closed out the meet with a 9.950 score. Soloski got a 10.0 from one judge, but the second judge scored it as a 9.90, which prompted a smattering of boos from the crowd that was anxious to see a perfect score from the senior.

The meet against the Sun Devils started out well on vault for the Red Rocks, but took a quick turn following Cammy Hall's vault in the second position. Following her vault, Hall went to celebrate with her team with her always high level of emotion, but suddenly dropped to the ground as she passed out.

It was a scary scene to start the meet, but Hall later returned to celebrate with her team.

"That was a wild start to the meet; that should have been my sign," Farden said.

Team scores

Utah

  • Vault (49.275)
  • Bars (98.700, 49.425)
  • Beam (147.725, 49.025)
  • Floor (197.400, 49.675)

Arizona State

  • Bars (49.225)
  • Vault (98.400, 49.175)
  • Floor (147.475, 49.075)
  • Beam (196.100, 48.625)

Individual Utah scores

1st Rotation: Vault (49.275)

  • Jillian Hoffman: 9.800
  • Cammy Hall: 9.800
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9.900
  • Jaedyn Rucker: 9.850
  • Alexia Burch: 9.900
  • Grace McCallum: 9.825

2nd Rotation: Bars (49.425)

  • Amelie Morgan: 9.875
  • Alexia Burch: 9.900
  • Sage Thompson: 9.850
  • Grace McCallum: 9.925
  • Cristal Isa: 9.775
  • Maile O'Keefe: 9.875

3rd Rotation: Beam (49.025)

  • Amelie Morgan: 9.775
  • Grace McCallum: 9.250
  • Adrienne Randall: 9.650
  • Abby Paulson: 9.675
  • Cristal Isa: 9.975
  • Maile O'Keefe: 9.950

4th Rotation: Floor (49.675)

  • Jillian Hoffman: 9.975
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9.875
  • Jaedyn Rucker: 9.925
  • Grace McCallum: 9.750
  • Maile O'Keefe: 9.950
  • Sydney Soloski: 9.950

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer of University of Utah athletics β€” primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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