This Week in Utah Gymnastics
The preseason No. 5-ranked Utah gymnasts (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) will host Penn State (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) in the 2019 season opener for both teams on Saturday, Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. Tickets are available at UtahTickets.com and 801-581-UTIX. The meet will be streamed live on UtahUtes.com and broadcast on ESPN 700 radio.
Season tickets have topped 9,400, breaking the previous school and NCAA gymnastics record of 9,236 set last year. Utah led all NCAA women's sports in attendance for the eighth time in 2018, averaging 15,139 fans a meet … Utah is ranked fifth in the preseason Women's Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA) coaches' poll, mirroring its finish at the last two NCAA Championships. See page 3 for the complete preseason top 25. The Utes were picked second in the Pac-12 coaches' poll behind defending NCAA and Pac-12 champion UCLA … Former Ute All-American Maddie Stover, who completed her career last April, is in her first season as the ESPN 700 color commentator for Utah home gymnastics meets.
The season opener is themed the SLC Edition Meet and 15,000 car decals featuring the Salt Lake City skyline will be distributed to those in attendance. The team will also wear a new SLC-themed leotard for the meet … The Ute gymnasts will sign free trading cards after the meet in the only autograph night of the season … A new VIP box suite area has opened at the top of the lower bowl on the south side of the arena. Box suite season tickets include ledge seating, parking, food and soft drinks. Contact an account representative at 801-587-9894 for more information … The Kid Zone between portals 13-15 will open at 2:30 p.m. and features a face painter, balloon artist, life-size Swoop Bobblehead, poster making station and more … The first 100 students at each home meet can pick up a MUSS thermal shirt near section U.
, Utah's volunteer coach/choreographer last season, was hired as Utah's gymnastics director of recruiting and player development in the summer … BJ Das
, an acclaimed professional choreographer and dancer based in Los Angeles, is in her first season as Utah's volunteer coach/choreographer.
The Utes return 10 letterwinners and 20-of-24 routines from last year's fifth-place NCAA Championship team ... Junior two-time NCAA champion MyKayla Skinner
highlights a group of five returning All-Americans that also includes seniors Kari Lee
and MaKenna Merrell-Giles
, junior Missy Reinstadtler
and sophomore Sydney Soloski
… The Utes go seven to eight deep on every event and starting lineups could vary meet by meet. Skinner
are potential all-arounders … Freshmen Hunter Dula
, Cristal Isa
and Adrienne Randall
will make their Utah debuts against Penn State. Isa is a two-time Junior Olympic national champion on bars, while Randall won a J.O. national title on beam. Freshman Cammy Hall
, projected to be a contributor in the vault and floor lineups, was injured in November and will miss the season.
Two-time NCAA champion, two-time NCAA all-around runner-up and 18-time All-American MyKayla Skinner
is one of the winningest gymnasts in Utah history. Skinner holds the Utah record for all-around wins in a season (12 in 2017) and ranks second in overall season wins (43 in 2017) and career all-around wins (21, 2017-18). The junior has 77 career victories. Skinner won NCAA titles on floor in 2017 and vault in 2018. The Pac-12 all-around champion as a freshman and sophomore, Skinner owns Pac-12 records for most Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week awards in a season (7) and a career (12), as well as most Pac-12 Freshman of the Week awards (6).
Utah leads the series with Penn State 27-6 (11-0 in Salt Lake City) … Utah has won the last 26 meetings with the Nittany Lions dating back to a 1981 loss at University Park, Pa. … The two teams met on a nearly annual basis from the late 1970s to the late 1990s … Utah finished second to Penn State at the 1980 AIAW Championships—the year before winning the first of six straight national championships (1981 AIAW, 1982-86 NCAA) ... For complete series results, see page 2.
Scouting Penn State
Coach: Sarah Brown (2nd season)
2017 NCAA Finish: DNQ
National Rank: NR
2019 Record: 0-0
Notes: Second-year head coach Sarah (Shire) Brown
competed for Utah's 2007 NCAA runner-up team as a freshman. She finished her career at Missouri, where she was a two-time Big 12 Conference Gymnast of the Year … Sophomore Lauren Bridgens
was a second-team All-American on bars in 2018 and a five-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week.