Maile O'Keefe comes up clutch on beam as No. 3 Red Rocks edge past rival UCLA


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SALT LAKE CITY β€” Olympian Jordan Chiles finished her floor routine and knew the score was going to be good. When the results came in, all it read was perfection β€” a 10.0 β€” for the UCLA freshman.

The 6,351 fans that packed into Pauley Pavilion exploded with cheers as Chiles picked up her first collegiate 10.0. That moment was the capstone to what was No. 22 UCLA's best performance of the season β€” the Bruins hadn't scored above a 196.400 all season β€” and one that was going to make the No. 3 Red Rocks sweat it out to the final gymnast.

Up until that moment, Utah had two gymnasts fall off beam, and the margin of error was slim for Red Rocks "beam queen" Maile O'Keefe. The junior gymnast needed to score a 9.975 to guarantee a win. Anything less ... well, Utah didn't want to find out after dominating the first three events of the night.

As O'Keefe started her routine, cheers and excitement were still being rained down upon an emotional Chiles β€” it was hard to miss (or hear) the buzz filling the arena. But O'Keefe remained firm and delivered in traditional fashion.

As O'Keefe stuck her landing, she gave an impassioned scream β€” she knew she'd done it, a week after scoring a 10.0 on the same event. It didn't take long for the judges to return a 9.975 score β€” exactly what the Red Rocks needed to guarantee a win over UCLA, even with one gymnast left to go on floor for the Bruins.

In a meet where Utah was on pace to record its first 198 team score since 2019, Utah survived with a 197.750-197.650 win on the road.

"She was in her element and almost felt like she just locked everything out and was so focused," Utah head coach Tom Farden said of O'Keefe. "We have the luxury of seeing her week in and week out in a Utah arena, but it's something else, it's another level to see her in this type of arena on ESPN, and obviously with the crowd that they had β€” lots of energy. I'm super impressed with her to be able to lock that down."

Utah needed O'Keefe's near-perfect score after Adrienne Randall and Grace McCallum fell off beam in the second and third spot in the lineup after a solid 9.90 leadoff score from freshman Amelie Morgan. The two falls forced Utah to count Randall's 9.350 score.

Suddenly, a 0.650 advantage going into the final rotation for the Red Rocks was called into question and the pressure was on in a hostile environment β€” the first road test of the season.

Fortunately for the Red Rocks, Abby Paulson reset the momentum and scored a 9.90 in the fourth position. She was followed up by Cristal Isa's 9.925 score to continue her strong senior season. The Red Rocks were back in business, and O'Keefe brought the team home.

"This is exactly what the regular season is used for β€” to get the athletes conditioning to chaos and distractions and everything else that happens on the road, and quickly adjust to different equipment," Farden said.

Prior to the final event, the Red Rocks were unstoppable and had everything going their way. Instead of a narrow win, Utah was ready to celebrate McCallum's first collegiate 10.0 β€” a flawless routine on bars in the first event of the night β€” or its season-high scores on bars and vault, both 49.550. All of it was trending in a very strong direction.

The first road meet of the season was setting up strong for the Red Rocks, with the team pacing toward a 198.200 after the first two events. What could go wrong in the final two events, which have been considered the team's strongest events coming into the season?

And when the floor team finished with a near season-high score of 49.600, a 198 all-around score seemed like a guarantee. The Red Rocks only needed a 49.300 on beam to cross the threshold. But that seemed like a done deal considering the team was coming off a season-high performance of 49.725 the week before against Stanford.

But the night had other plans, and Utah was forced to overcome some early-season adversity.

"This win is bittersweet, right? Because the greedy part of us inside of us wants to max out right now," Farden said. "But the practical part or the tactical part of coaching is pacing a team along and seeing those events, where the first 50% of the meet was hitting season highs on the road; that's exactly what you want to see start happening in February.

"Impressed with the athletes' fortitude to come away with a win in a very hostile environment."

Chiles finished the night with a 39.700 score to win the all-around competition, beating out fellow Bruins gymnasts Norah Flatley (39.525) and Chae Campbell (39.500), and Team USA teammate Grace McCallum (39.000).

Prior to McCallum's fall off beam, she was on pace to have her best meet of her short collegiate career. McCallum started off with a perfect 10.0 and followed it up with a 9.90 on vault and a 9.950 on floor.

"I thought she really handled things well through the first two events and then just got a little early on that series, and that was not characteristic of her, but we'll go back to the gym and work on that stuff," Farden said.

Team scores

No. 3 Utah

  • Bars (49.550)
  • Vault (99.100, 49.550)
  • Floor (148.700, 49.600)
  • Beam (197.750, 49.050)

No. 22 UCLA

  • Vault (49.275)
  • Bars (98.725, 49.450)
  • Beam (148.050, 49.325)
  • Floor (197.650, 49.600)

Individual Utes scores

1st Rotation: Bars (49.550)

  • Amelie Morgan: 9.900
  • Alexia Burch: 9.825
  • Sage Thompson: 9.875
  • Grace McCallum: 10.0
  • Cristal Isa: 9.900
  • Maile O'Keefe: 9.875

2nd Rotation: Vault (49.550)

  • Jillian Hoffman: 9.875
  • Cammy Hall: 9.925
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9.950
  • Jaedyn Rucker: 9.900
  • Alexia Burch: 9.250
  • Grace McCallum: 9.900

3rd Rotation: Floor (49.600)

  • Jillian Hoffman: 9.875
  • Abby Paulson: 9.900
  • Jaedyn Rucker: 9.700
  • Grace McCallum: 9.950
  • Maile O'Keefe: 9.925
  • Sydney Soloski: 9.950

4th Rotation: Beam (49.050)

  • Amelie Morgan: 9.900
  • Adrienne Randall: 9.350
  • Grace McCallum: 9.150
  • Abby Paulson: 9.900
  • Cristal Isa: 9.925
  • Maile O'Keefe: 9.975

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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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