Utah Gymnastics Prepares To Take On Rival UCLA

Feb 18, 2024, 11:42 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s rivalry week for the Red Rocks and no, they are not competing against BYU- in the world of college gymnastics, UCLA wears that leotard.

The No. 4 Utes are heading to Los Angeles to face off with the No. 8 Bruins at Pauley Pavillion on Monday, February 19 at 3:30 pm MT. Because it’s President’s Day and one of the biggest rivalries in the sport, the meet has a prominent spot on ESPN2.

Utah head coach Carly Dockendorf discussed the impending matchup earlier in the week and how a strong showing at Washington last week sets the Red Rocks up well.

A Washington Win Sets Thing Up Nicely For Utah Against UCLA

The Red Rocks had their cleanest outing of the season in the Emerald City last weekend taking on the Gym Dawgs that Dockendorf believes helps set the table for a strong showing in Los Angeles this week.

“I think our win on the weekend was really important for us to have a great meet going into UCLA that just gives us a lot of confidence we can do our gymnastics at our very best on the road in a different atmosphere,” Dockendorf said. “We’re going to use that to carry into Monday’s competition. We’ll strategize some stuff in practice to keep making the girls feel a little bit uncomfortable- a tight space and be ready for Pauley Pavilion on Monday.”

After spending the first five weeks of the season in Utah, the Red Rocks made it very clear they were ready to hit the road last week. Dockendorf expects that same fire and excitement heading into this weekend against a big rival.

“I think most of our team has been to UCLA numerous times and they love competing there, so I think just having that mentality going into it really helps with the whole team and the freshmen that haven’t gotten the chance to be there,” Dockendorf said. “It’s a pretty energetic crowd and they sit really close to the equipment. I think our athletes really utilize that energy for us.”

UCLA Is Another Opportunity For Red Rocks To Build Confidence On The Road

There is no doubt Utah’s home crowd and atmosphere is great, but that’s not where most of the important meets happen. Those take place on the road and Dockendorf wants to see her team continue to grow and get comfortable away from the Huntsman Center.

“Continuing to build our confidence on the road because Pac-12s, Regionals, Nationals- none of that is going to be at home,” Dockendorf said. “Continuing to build skills that we need to perform our best in away meets- that’s really our emphasis right now and then obviously some detail stuff still. Sticking our landings and again, we’ve been scoring high 197s with a 75% meet. 49.2 on vault this weekend and we got our season’s best. There is still so much room for us to improve.”

Red Rocks’ Last Meet With Amelie Morgan

Team captain Amelie Morgan will be competing for the last time (for a few weeks) with the Red Rocks against UCLA as she heads back to the United Kingdom to put her Olympic dreams in motion.

Morgan is a key piece of Utah’s lineups on bars and beam where she’s proven to be unflappable and a consistent high scorer. Obviously, replacing her production for a few weeks won’t be easy, but Dockendorf says the team couldn’t be prouder of her ambition.

“I don’t think we can fill those shoes, she’s a pretty special individual,” Dockendorf said. “We’ve definitely been preparing with some of our younger athletes to take that spot and I think they will be ready to go. We’re going to be cheering her on and we’re very excited for her. We’ll be excited for her to come back as well.”

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 Prepares To Take On Rival UCLA