Utah Red Rocks gymnastics scores season high in final meet of regular season


The Red Rocks eclipsed 198 points for the second time this season, defeating Utah State and Stanford

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah’s Abby Paulson, shown during a meet against Stanford on Feb. 23, scored 10.0 on the beam Friday night during Utah’s tri-meet against Utah State and Stanford.

Utah Red Rocks coach Carly Dockendorf usually isn’t one to set meet goals based on a specific score.

But going into the team’s final meet of the regular season Friday, the Red Rocks thought this was a good time to tweak that practice. In a season full of 197s and one 198.075, the fifth-ranked team in the country knew scoring at least a 198 would be crucial to keep that position.

“We really try to leave numbers out of conversation going into a meet,” Dockendorf earlier this week. “But I think that that’s the understanding. We all know what we’re we’re trying to achieve. That is an important number for us to continue to stay fifth in the rankings.”

The Red Rocks not only reached that score. They blew it out of the water.

Utah scored a 198.300, a season high, on Friday in a tri-meet against Utah State and Stanford at the Huntsman Center. The score was more than enough to win the meet.

“I think it provides confidence to the team that they’re capable of doing that,” Dockendorf said.

The Red Rocks scored at least a 49.500 on each event, which is the type of complete meet performance they’ve been aiming for all season. Dockendorf said the team discussed their scoring during a meeting Thursday, and highlighted that if they had stuck just a few more routines, they would’ve be scored 198-plus in every meet this season.

“That’s pretty much what we did tonight,” Dockendorf said. “We didn’t stick everything. But we did add two stuck dismounts here, one extra stuck dismount here, and that’s where we end up.”

Abby Paulson said the team wasn’t thinking about scoring 198.

“We were focused on getting out there and hitting four solid events,” Paulson said. “Beginning to end of each lineup was our goal — to be confident in our routines that we performed and to be happy with how we did. Obviously when we do that, we’re going to get the scores that we want.”

Paulson scores perfect 10

Friday’s meet was highlighted by a perfect 10.0 on beam by graduating fifth-year senior Paulson.

Paulson changed her beam music to “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift. For the entire season, the song has been Swift’s “Timeless.” She said the reason for the change came as a way to honor the relationship between her and a high school friend. The pair parted ways on their way to college, she said.

“I felt like it was just very fitting to finish out my career in the Huntsman to the same song,” Paulson said.

Dockendorf said that score in that event has been a long time coming for Paulson.

“I am so happy that she got that 10 tonight because I feel like she’s deserved it actually numerous times this year,” Dockendorf said. “Going fifth and the judges know that Maile O’Keefe is going after, I think sometimes they are conservative with her score. Her beam routine is beautiful.”

Paulson said she had a “really emotional week.” So when she was up there, she wanted to focus on her routine and the song instead of thinking it was her last routine at the Huntsman.

“But I really couldn’t hold it together when I landed,” Paulson said with a laugh. “So I’m just really grateful for everything, and the amazing fans, and my amazing teammates.”

Meet results

Utah: 198.300

Stanford: 196.500

Utah State: 195.225

Top scores

Vault

• Grace McCallum, Ella Zirbes – 9.925

• Ella Zirbes – 9.925

• Makenna Smith, Jaedyn Rucker – 9.900

Bars

• McCallum – 9.975

• Cami Winger, Alani Sabado – 9.900

Beam

• Abby Paulson – 10.0

• McCallum – 9.950

• Maile O’Keefe – 9.900

Floor

• McCallum – 9.975

• Jaylene Gilstrap – 9.950

• O’Keefe, Paulson, Rucker – 9.925



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