Fourth-place Utah Gymnastics returns to the Jon M. Huntsman Center this Saturday, January 28 to host #22 Washington for their annual “Character Day” at 1 p.m. MT. The Utes and Huskies will be televised on the Pac-12 network to open the conference action. Jim Watson and Alisa Mowe will make calls for the Pac-12 network, while Mike Lageschulte and Kyndal (Robarts) Pond will broadcast the meeting on Utah’s flagship ESPN 700 radio.
• Doors open to the public at 5:30pm MT. Tickets for the meeting are available here.
• There will be 14 different characters and Disney Princesses in the pre-meeting hall for interaction and photo opportunities. Children are encouraged to wear their favorite costumes for Saturday’s Character Day gathering.
• The children’s zone is in sections 11-15 before the meeting, and there will be a face painter, balloon artist and other activities.
• Complimentary Utah Gymnastics team posters and trading cards are available in the hall while supplies last.
• After the meeting, there will be an autograph session with the entire Utah Gymnastics team. This will be the only autograph opportunity of the season.
• The Red Rocks Collection is also for sale in the hall. The gymnasts also autograph leotards for those who wish to have them autographed after the meeting.
GETTING TO THE MEETING
• Fans can ride TRAX for free with their Meet ticket.
• This season there is a new “Red Rocks Express”, free shuttle service from the Guardsman Way Tailgate parking lot and Broadcast Center on Wasatch Drive. The shuttle runs continuously before and after the meeting.
• Fans can view the 2023 park map, including Red Rocks Express routes, here (PDF).
IN THE RANKINGS
Utah jumped a spot in the rankings after its contest in Oklahoma and improved to fourth in the nation in three weeks of the 2023 season. The Red Rocks are the nation’s top beam team for the second straight week, while the Vault team now sits third in the nation. Bars is 11th and Floor is 12th heading into this weekend.
Individually, Utah is currently home to the top two gymnasts in the country on beam Maile O’Keefe is first with a season average of 9,958 and Kara Eaker is tied for second place with an average of 9.933. on vault, Jaedyn Rucker is fifth in the nation and Makena Smith is tied 12. Grace McCallum rounds out the Utes in the top-25 individually, taking 19th place.
• Utah posted a season-best vaulting 49.525 in Oklahoma last week. Utah only scored higher once all of last season (49,550 at UCLA). The 49.525 on vault is the fourth best vaulting result in the nation this year.
The Utes posted a national-best 49.675 on bar at the Rio Tinto Best of Utah and never recorded a score below 9.90. The 49,675 remains a team’s highest score at any event this season over three action-packed weeks.
• Maile O’Keefe has posted two 9.95s and one 9.975 on her three-bar routines this season.
• Kara Eaker recorded her second career 10.0 on beam at the Best of Utah in her ninth career on beam. She is now one of eight Red Rocks in program history to have earned at least two 10.0s in a career on beam and joins a teammate Maile O’Keefe.
• Grace McCallum scored a 39.675 in the all-around at the Best of Utah and has only once higher scored in the all-around (39.775 in Washington, 2022). It was the fourth time in her career that she had scored a 39.675.
RED ROCKS ON THE RUNWAY
The Utah vault team started the 2023 season as one of the best lineups in the country. The Red Rocks posted a season-best 49.525 in Oklahoma this past weekend and currently rank third in the nation with a season average of 49.408. Utah has only scored better than 49.525 once last season and has not scored before that since the 2018 season. The Utes were led by the reigning national champion Jaedyn Rucker, who ranks fifth in the nation with a 9.925 average in three encounters. With a season-high 9.975, she earned a share of the Oklahoma Vault title to boost the lineup. Contribute immediately Makena Smith ranks 12th in the country averaging a 9.90 on vault and last time in Oklahoma posted a season-high 9.95. Abby Burner and Lucy Stanhope both have an average of 9.858 through three encounters and Jillian Hoffman has consistently led the team with an average of 9.817. Grace McCallum rounds out the lineup, adding a 9.90 to the season last week with her new Yurchenko 1.5.
• Utah leads the all-time streak with 65-0-2 against Washington, including a 25-0 record in Salt Lake City.
• The Red Rocks beat the Huskies 197,950-197,275 in Seattle last year’s regular season, while Utah beat Washington 197,475-193,500 at home in 2021.
• Utah have not lost to Washington in program history, but recorded draws in 2013 and 2001.
Final ranking 2022: 31st
Ranking 2023: 25th
Huskies Highlights: Washington posted a season-high 196,550 two weeks ago at the Wasatch Classic in West Valley City, Utah, finishing second behind UCLA and ahead of Minnesota and Boise State… The Huskies are averaging 195,950 across three encounters… Washington ranks 23rd in the nation on bars and 27th on floor to highlight his events… The Huskies are led by all-arounder Skylar Killough-Wilhelm, who is averaging 39.317 in the all-around this season.
Utah stays in Salt Lake City next week for Pac-12 play and welcomes the sixth-ranked UCLA Bruins to the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Friday, February 3. The top six Pac-12 clash between the Utes and the Bruins will begin with introductions at 6:45 pm MT. The meetup will air on ESPN2 and will mark Utah’s third regular-season meetup to be aired on an ESPN network, the largest in program history. The meeting takes place at the Huntsman Center under the motto “Top Guns”. Utah will pay tribute to the longstanding tradition of Top Gun’s theme song being played during intros since the original film came out in 1986.