SEATTLE- After a slower start in Thursday’s regional semi-final, the Red Rocks exploded in Saturday night’s regional final with a dazzling 49.6 set on the ground. However, that wouldn’t be the most exciting part of the Red Rock’s final day competing in Seattle for their 46th straight shot at a national title.
— Utah Gymnastics (@UtahGymnastics) April 3, 2022
“I really liked the focus of the athlete starting with the bus ride,” said head coach Tom Farden after the competition. “I could feel it. We talked about it. It’s the culmination of a good weekend in terms of what we did on Thursday and then stepping up and doing it tonight. Super happy and proud. It was total teamwork. »
Red rocks rock the house
The Utes led the way for three quarters of the game against #5 Alabama, #12 Michigan State and Stanford, after a superb ground effort with solid jump rotation (49.4). Things got a little dicey in quarter three (bars) and mid four (beam) for the Red Rocks when the Crimson Tide and Michigan State found gas and really tested what Utah was up against. was done.
Utah fell to second place during their bars set at Alabama, trailing them from 148.525 to 148.475. The critical moment came however, in the middle of the Red Rock beam when Alexia Burch took an unfortunate fall putting pressure on Cristal Isa, Kara Eaker and Maile O’Keefe to deliver.
A dramatic end for Beam Team
Isa took over first and produced a nice 9.975 routine. As Michigan State lit the burners and finished the competition on vault with a final score of 197.650, there was no room for error on the part of Eaker or O’Keefe. Luckily for the Red Rocks, both athletes posted perfect 10s to finish the competition on the toughest apparatus and brought Utah back to first place with a 198.200 score, the highest post-season score. high in the school’s history. It was also the second time in the 2022 season that the Red Rocks had posted consecutive perfect 10s on an event (the first time was on bars) that O’Keefe had competed in.
MAKE THIS BACK TO BACK FOR @UtahGymnastics 👏
Maile O’Keefe scores a perfect 10‼️ pic.twitter.com/bIoZSRRRkh
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“I just had to do a normal routine,” O’Keefe said. “Obviously it’s easier said than done under pressure, but I knew that if I trusted myself and used my breath, everything would be fine.”
To be continued for Utah
The Red Rocks will have a hard-earned break over the next two weeks in preparation for the national championships in Fort Worth, Texas, April 14-16. They will be met by Michigan, Missouri, Florida Auburn, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Alabama. April 14 will be a semi-final with the top two from the first and last sessions advancing to the final on April 16.