SALT LAKE CITY – The second-ranked University of Utah gymnasts used the highest balance beam score in the nation this year to propel themselves to a 197.675-196.000 win over 19th-ranked Stanford in Salt Lake City. After a strong rotation of the bars to build momentum, the Red Rocks scored no less than 9.90 on beam, which was capped off with a Perfect 10.0 by Maile O’Keefeto combine for a 49.725 in the third rotation.
“It was a very slow start today,” said the head coach Tom Farden. “I really felt like there was no energy in our jumps. After that bars and beam were some of the best of our season, if not the best. On floor it was one of those days when we couldn’t keep up the momentum.”
The Utes started slow after posting just 49.125 on vault. Alexia Burch was the top Ute of the event for the second straight meeting, posting a 9.90 mark to claim her second title of the season. Grace McCallum started his all-around night with a 9.85 at anchor, while Jillian Hoffman and Maile O’Keefe added 9.825s in the first two routines. Lucy Stanhope finished scoring five with a 9.725.
Utah found the momentum it needed on the uneven bars after hitting a season high as a group. Amelie Morgan set the tone with a 9.825 and later another freshman Sage Thompson posted a 9.85. McCallum continued to build the scores with a 9.875 before Crystal Isa tied a career-best 9.95 to claim his third event title of the year. O’Keefe concluded the rotation with a season high of 9.90, bringing the event total to 49.400.
Leading the Cardinal 98.525-97.900 through two rotations, the encounter quickly turned into a beam highlight reel as Utah’s lowest counted score would be 9.90. Morgan has proven to be a consistent leader as she has all year with a season high of 9.90, while McCallum and Abby Paulson combined for 9.95 consecutive seconds in third and fourth place.
Isa continued his strong showing with a 9.925, while the 11,138 fans in attendance were then treated to a flawless routine from O’Keefe at the anchor. O’Keefe earned the first Perfect 10.0 of the season for Utah and the second of his career to push the beam rotation to 49.725. The beam score is the highest in the nation this year and was just 0.050 shy of the school’s record score posted in 2020.
“All credit goes to Carly Dockendorf on beam,” Farden said of the excellent rotation. “Her creativity, her connection with the athletes and the confidence she instills in them to provide our athletes with ‘it’ quality…you can’t quite describe her. They just have it. This is potentially the best balance beam team in the country and in the history of our program.”
The Red Rocks continued their ground run shortly after the standing ovation for O’Keefe, securing a 9.90 lead over Jillian Hoffman and a 9.875 from Isa. After Jaedyn Rucker went out of bounds, Utah looked to lower their score and got back on track with a whopping 9.95 from McCallum the next routine. O’Keefe concluded his all-around debut with a 9.825 on floor, while Sidney Solosky anchored the ground team with a 9.875. The Utes posted a 49.425 rushing for the team’s sixth straight win this season and 15th straight conference victory. McCallum won the floor title, as well as the all-around title to boast a team record six wins this season.
2 Utah will hit the road for its first real road meeting of the season, heading to Los Angeles next Friday, February 4. Utah will face No. 25 UCLA at 8 p.m. MT on ESPN at Pauley Pavilion.