Utah gymnastics wants to increase expectations in the final stretch of the season

Coach Carly Dockendorf said better scores start with higher staff expectations as the Red Rocks continue to try correcting small but costly mistakes.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah’s Grace McCallum performs on the beam as Utah hosts Stanford, NCAA gymnastics at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

The Utah Red Rocks would admit that Saturday’s meet against Cal wasn’t their best. Mistakes on the small details led to them their first loss of the season in Pac-12 competition.

Despite that, Utah’s score of 197.700 was nothing to sneeze at. It’s the type of score the Red Rocks have tallied all season, and what has led to a No. 5 ranking nationally.

But those small mistakes have added up on too many occasions now for the Red Rocks to ignore.

“I know moving forward, we as a staff are going to raise our expectations in practice and [the] level of accountability for each turn and each routine that we do,” coach Carly Dockendorf said this week. “We’re still making mistakes and losing meets and points on landings, handstands, the small little details. I think that that can come back on us as staff and as coaches and what we’re allowing in practice to be acceptable.”

Dockendorf thinks the performance against Cal could have ignited some competitive fire in the Red Rocks — potentially enough to make the adjustments that have eluded them lately.

“I think that those meets can be sometimes the most helpful because that fire does burn a little bit more,” Dockendorf said. “I know they want to win the Pac-12 Championships. So we are going to have to clean that stuff up if that’s what we want to do. Sometimes you just need that sting a little bit to be able to move forward and make some of those changes.”

The Pac-12 Championships will take place March 23 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City. Before that, the Red Rocks traveled to Arizona for a Friday meet. The next is a home tri-meet on March 15 where they’ll compete against Utah State and Stanford on the same day.

The last time Utah faced Stanford, on Feb. 23, it had its best score of the season with a 198.075 in a meet where the Red Rocks put together strong performances in all four events. The Red Rocks want more of those types of performances as they try to make a play for the national title.

To do that, they’ll have to step it up, Dockendorf said, and it starts with the coaches.

“We can’t expect them to have those expectations if it doesn’t start from us,” Dockendorf said. “So I think that that’s what we’re going to focus on this week to hopefully not be a 197.7 team every single week and be closer to the 198 mark for the [final] regular season meets, Pac-12′s and postseason.”

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