Who Utah Red Rocks gymnasts will honor on Senior Night, who is coming back

Senior Night is on Friday at the Huntsman Center.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah’s Jaylene Gilstrap performs her floor routine as Utah hosts Stanford, NCAA gymnastics at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

The Utah Red Rocks have had plenty of experience on its squad this year. Maile O’Keefe, Jaedyn Rucker and Abby Paulson are fifth-year seniors and have led the way in several aspects, from perfect 10s to helping design the team’s new practice facility.

But those three gymnasts’ Utah careers are coming to a close soon. They’ll be honored Friday on Senior Night.

At least one senior Red Rock, however, has decided not to walk. Jaylene Gilstrap announced this week that she will return to Utah for a fifth year.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to spend another year alongside the most incredible fans in the nation, and my exceptional teammates, coaches and support staff,” Gilstrap said in a statement. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have been given this opportunity and can’t wait to return next year for one final season as a Red Rock. I’d like to give a huge thank you to our extraordinary fans and supporters for your unwavering encouragement and support.”

Gilstrap regularly competes on floor for the Red Rocks, while also appearing in the beam and vault events. Against Arizona over the weekend, she recorded a career-high 9.950 on floor.

“I think it’s phenomenal that she’s going to come back,” coach Carly Dockendorf said. “She provides great leadership, especially to the younger girls on this team. “Her floor really this year has been outstanding, and to be able to bring that routine back I think just strengthens our entire team for next year.”

Dockendorf added that Gilstrap brings positive expectations in other areas as well, such as academics, and said the senior has “great personality and character” as well.

“She still has things she wants to accomplish,” Dockendorf said. “She still knows that she can make a difference in this program.”

A senior who still hasn’t announced whether she’ll return next season is Alani Sabado. She, like Gilstrap, has one more year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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