Red Rocks Looked Poised In Exhibition Debut

Dec 15, 2023, 11:56 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah gymnastics gave their fans a preview of what is to come in their 2024 season, and they looked poised in their exhibition debut.

That’s not to say there weren’t some mistakes and things to work on before competition, but for a first outing where nerves can come into play, the Utes handled themselves well. Especially when taken into account the chaos that has surrounded them since August.

While it is early and not all routines were done full-strength, Utah looked every bit the part of a top-contender.

Head Coach Carly Dockendorf Shares Thoughts On Red Rocks Preview

The gymnasts weren’t the only ones making a debut on Friday night. Newly minted head coach Carly Dockendorf was also experienced some firsts running the show.

Overall, Dockendorf was pleased with everyone’s effort and looking forward to continued growth and execution as the season progresses.

“I was extremely proud of the team tonight,” Dockendorf said. “I think, as we’ve talked about, a lot of adversity in the fall and for them to still have their routines in competition shape today just speaks volumes of how much courage and talent this team has. I think this is an excellent starting point, but always lots of room to improve. I think for them to just go out there and enjoy being out there and show their gymnastics- think they have been waiting for this for a while.”

There were no scores in Friday night’s event and no team to compete against, but Dockendorf said there are several things the team can glean from the exhibition to make them better when it counts.

“Although there weren’t scores and there isn’t another team, just being out here in front of all of these fans feels very similar to a meet,” Dockendorf said. “I think we can take a lot from it. One thing I talked to the team about at the end tonight was to take a moment and recognize what worked tonight because a lot of things went really well. Those are going to be the same tools and skills we’re going to need when it counts at our first meet.”

With that said, there are also things Utah will want to correct. There was a miss on a bars routine and a fall on beam as well as some typical first time-out wobbles that will need to be cleaned up. Nothing alarming or out of the norm, but simply things that as a coach you hope disappear as your team gets into competition rhythm.

For Dockendorf, one of the smallest fixes that can have a big impact she wants the Red Rocks to be mindful of moving forward are their landings. Dockendorf noted a new rule change in how long the athletes need to stand still on their dismounts that can save them precious points.

“Definitely our landings,” Dockendorf said. “I’m not sure if you know, but there was a rule change this year with our landings. You have to hold the finish for one whole second before you move. Otherwise, you get a .05 deduction. We had a couple that did that tonight, but that is definitely something judges are going to watch critically for, and we will absolutely need to do a better job with that.”

The Red Rocks will officially open up their 2024 season at home on January 5 against Boise State. The meet starts at 7:00 pm MT and can be viewed on Pac-12 Insider.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Red Rocks Looked Poised In Exhibition Debut