The #6 ranked Red Rocks rumbled past the #7 Michigan Wolverines 196.625 to 195.525 in a full house at the Huntsman Center Saturday evening. 14,675 were in attendance for the top 10 match-up and to see freshman MyKayla Skinner make her debut as a Ute.
The girls did not disappoint with a rock solid beam rotation, and high flying bars sets that grabbed the audience’s attention from the get-go. Skinner proved to be as good as advertised winning the All-Around with a total score of 39.550 and posting three of four scores at 9.900.
“MyKayla Skinner is a world-class athlete,” said Utah co-coach Tom Farden. “Competing on the world stage obviously groomed her, but she had ice in her veins out there tonight.”
While Skinner got most of the attention Saturday another gymnast of note was sophomore hometown hero MaKenna Merrell who posted career high scores on all events and was runner up for the All-Around. Farden says Merrell is by far the most improved gymnast from a year ago and will be one to watch going forward into the season.
“MaKenna Merrell had a bad taste in her mouth after last season and was disappointed,” said Farden. “There was something unique with MaKenna that the media probably doesn’t know- she grew two inches her freshman year. She had to make those adjustments with all of the technical things. Her summer she was on an absolute mission.”
Lone senior Baely Rowe had a notable night as well posting a 9.925 on her crowd pleasing Michael Jackson inspired beam routine that features the moonwalk.
“Beam is my favorite event,” said Rowe. “I just went out there and strut my stuff, sang my song and the ending was the ending. I didn’t really remember the routine. I made myself cry.”
While the Red Rocks had a very successful first outing with a very young team there are some things they will be looking to clean up before they head down to Provo next weekend to take on BYU.
“We had a couple of mistakes on floor where we had an athlete a little short on that last pass and then we had one out of bounds,” Farden said. “Those are pretty minor mistakes. I felt like this was a great start in terms of them going out and showing their strengths.”