Utah Gymnastics Move Up To No. 2 After Strong Opening Weekend Showing

Jan 8, 2024, 10:34 AM | Updated: 10:39 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Red Rocks were impressive in their opening weekend meet against the Boise State Broncos, earning them the No. 2 spot just behind Oklahoma.

Utah posted the second-highest score of the first week of the season last Friday, a 197.300 with plenty of room to grow and improve as the year wears on.

The Utes will have a crazy turnaround this week facing No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 LSU, and No. 12 UCLA on Saturday in a quad meet at the Maverik Center. They will then focus their attention on a different quad meet- the Best of Utah on Monday, also at the Maverik Center.

A Look At The Top Six In College Gymnastics Rankings In Week 2

*According To Road To Nationals After Week 1

  1. Oklahoma- 197.850
  2. Utah- 197.300
  3. Missouri- 197.150
  4. Alabama- 197.125
  5. LSU- 196.975
  6. Cal, Denver, Minnesota- 196.850

Something To Watch In College Gymnastics In 2024

There has been a rule change in college gymnastics as to what quantifies as a “stick”. Gone are the days of the “college stick”.

Now gymnasts are required to hold their final position with legs straight and arms up for one second. Otherwise, you lose .05 off your score. The rule change was made in an attempt to curb the flurry of 10’s it felt like were occurring weekly in college gymnastics.

Utah, for their part, have come up with a creative solution to help their gymnasts remember to hold their final position long enough to not receive the deduction.

“It’s a huge change,” Maile O’Keefe said after the Utes’ meet against Boise State. “It’s awkwardly long how long you have to stand there and hold it. Carly [Dockendorf] got really creative and implemented- we ‘flash the U’ at the top- just to give us that extra half-second hold. I wouldn’t say it’s well overdue, but it definitely lets you know it was a stick. There is no question mark there.”

Head coach Carly Dockendorf admitted it’s been a little tough, and awkward to teach the new rule, but hopes “flashing the U” will help ease the transition.

“I think it does look awkward to be honest,” Dockendorf said. “We’ve incorporated ‘flashing the U’ after to hopefully help them stay in the moment and not be so excited to run and high-five their teammates. I almost wonder if it’s harder for the teammates to not jump up on the mat right away? It’s going to be something we’ll continue to practice. We do it in our conditioning. We emphasize it every day in our routines, and it just needs to become a habit. I think even for the audience too, it will just eventually become the norm. It’s just something we will continue to focus on.”

Utah’s Thoughts On Their Two Quad Meets In Three Days

As mentioned above, this week will not be an easy one for the Red Rocks as they prepare to compete in two quad meets on podium within a three-day span.

Admittedly, it’s great practice for postseason, but most teams are necessarily attempting this only two weeks into the season. However, the Utes plan on just staying in their bubble and handling it.

“When we compete against those big teams, obviously it’s super exciting, but we’re still focused on the Utah bubble” Abby Paulson said. “Going against them versus going against somebody else doesn’t affect what we do, so we’re just going to get in there, be confident and do our gymnastics. Stay with our team, stay confident in our gymnastics and focus on the little details.”

Utah gymnastics has an interesting composition this year of athletes with a lot of experience in Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Jaedyn Rucker, Grace McCallum, and Amelie Morgan among others to help the lead the way and show the young talent how to handle the rigors of tough schedules.

“I think one of our greatest strengths is the experience we have in the top half of our team,” Dockendorf said. “Just for them to showcase their confidence to the younger girls, I think that will really help us moving in there. That’s who they are going to follow. They are going to follow the upper classmen, the veterans and I think they are showing so much courage and confidence that the freshmen will just continue to follow along.”

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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Utah Gymnastics Move Up To No. 2 After Strong Opening Weekend Showing