The Red Rocks are one step closer to competing in their 42nd straight National Title Meet after dominating the Pac-12 Championship taking first place, moving up a spot to #4 in the nation and now earning the top seed in the Fayetteville Regional. The girls will have about two weeks to prepare before they head off to Arkansas to compete against #9 Denver, #16 California, #21 Auburn, Central Michigan and regional host Arkansas on April 1.
While there was much excitement in the Dumke Center over their recent Pac-12 Title and first place seeding at their regional competition co-head coach Megan Marsden and her girls made it very clear they had their eyes on the prize and are about their business.
“I could talk about that all day,” Marsden said of the Red Rock’s third Pac-12 Title. “It was a very special evening and gratifying for Tom and I and Meredith who have been working diligently from the first day this year to try and prepare this team in every way we could think of to head into post-season with a chance to be great.”
Senior and team captain Baely Rowe who took second place at the Pac-12 Championship in the All-Around was also all aglow reminiscing of her and her team’s recent success. “It’s almost bittersweet. It’s really amazing and I’m just trying to remember everything and enjoy it,” she said. “That was one of our goals this year and I think our team is not only really excited about it but they are enjoying every moment that we are here together and competing each weekend.”
As talk turned to the game plan for Regionals in two weeks Marsden got a little more serious. “At this point in the season our focus with the team is very much inner and not as much a concern about any other team specifically,” she stated. “I don’t even want to comment on the other teams there, it’s more about what we are trying to get done in order to continue to move through the qualification process.”
Freshman sensation MyKayla Skinner echoed her coach’s thoughts on worrying about themselves more than worrying about what their competition will do entering post season. “I think we definitely need to stay focused in the gym and come in and get those numbers in, stick the landings and work on perfection,” Skinner said. “Just plug away and keep doing what we’ve been doing in training.”
Competing on the Razorback’s turf is nothing new for Rowe who has been there once before with the Red Rocks for Regionals. “I’ve been to Arkansas for a Regional before and so I’m really excited to go back,” she said. “We are going to be laying low here for a couple of days to get our bodies ready to go and I think that is going to be a great thing for us because heading into Regionals and Nationals- those are big meets. We are going to prepare like we do each week going into each meet and I think that is important.”
Winning the PAC-12 Championship is just a small taste of what the Red Rocks can do according to Marsden who feels like they have the right balance of coaching, leaders and athletes who care to go far in the post-season. “I think when you bring coaches who are working hard to prepare the athletes and then athletes that are listening and also listening to their leaders within their group some incredible things can happen and we witnessed it on Saturday night,” she said.
The Gymnastics National Championship will be held this year in St. Louis on April 14-15. The Red Rocks will need to at least place second in their Regional to advance.