Red Rocks Post Back-To-Back Perfect 10s On Beam To Secure 46th Straight Trip To Nationals
SEATTLE- After a slower start in Thursday’s regional semi-final, the Red Rocks exploded out of the gate during Saturday evening’s regional final with a dazzling 49.6 floor set. However, that would not be the most exciting part of the Red Rock’s final day competing in Seattle for their 46th straight shot at a national title.
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“I really liked the athlete’s focus starting with the bus ride over,” head coach Tom Farden said post-meet. “I could feel it. We talked about it. It’s a culmination of a good weekend in terms of what we did on Thursday and then stepping it up and doing it tonight. Super pleased and proud. It was a total team effort.”
Red Rocks Rock The House
The Utes led the way for three fourths of the meet over #5 Alabama, #12 Michigan State and Stanford, following up a superb floor effort with a solid rotation on vault (49.4). Things got a little dicey in quarters three (bars) and halfway through four (beam) for the Red Rocks when the Crimson Tide and Michigan State found some gas and really tested what Utah was made of.
Utah fell to second place during their bars set to Alabama, trailing them 148.525 to 148.475. Crunch time came however, in the middle of the Red Rock’s beam set when Alexia Burch had an unfortunate fall putting pressure on Cristal Isa, Kara Eaker and Maile O’Keefe to deliver.
A Dramatic Ending For Beam Team
Isa stepped up to the plate first and produced a beautiful 9.975 routine. With Michigan State turning on the burners and finishing the competition on vault with a final score of 197.650 there was no room for error from Eaker or O’Keefe. Thankfully for the Red Rocks, both athletes posted perfect 10s to end the meet on the most difficult apparatus and lifted Utah back to first place with a 198.200-the highest post-season score in school history. It was also the second time in the 2022 season the Red Rocks posted back-to-back perfect 10s on an event (the first time was on bars) that O’Keefe had a hand in.
MAKE THAT BACK-TO-BACK FOR @UtahGymnastics 👏
Maile O'Keefe scores a perfect 10‼️ pic.twitter.com/bIoZSRRRkh
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“I just kind of had to do a normal routine,” O’Keefe said. “Obviously, it’s easier said than done under pressure, but I knew if I just trusted myself and used my breathing that I’d be fine.”
Up Next For Utah
The Red Rocks will get a hard earned break over the next two weeks in preparation for nationals in Fort Worth, Texas, April 14-16. They will be met by Michigan, Missouri, Florida Auburn, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Alabama. April 14th will be a semi-final with the top two from the early and late sessions moving on to April 16th’s final.
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