PALO ALTO, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) - The No. 5 ranked Utah gymnasts exploded for a season-best 197.925 to win their third Pac-12 Championship in the last four years. The second-seed Utes led from start to finish, holding off surprise contenders Oregon State (197.400) and Washington, which tied top seed UCLA for third place with a 197.100. Placing fifth was Stanford, which won the afternoon session with a 196.625, followed by California (196.300), Arizona (196.275) and Arizona State (195.600).
Utah also claimed individual gold, with freshman MyKayla Skinner staying undefeated against Pac-12 competition this season by winning the all-around (39.725) and floor (10.0) and tying for first on vault (9.95) with teammate Tiffani Lewis.
“We’ve worked so hard,” said Skinner. “We got off to an amazing start on the bars and just took off from there. Winning the Pac-12 Championship is a dream come true.”
With Utah ripping off one huge routine after another, the only surprise at the end of the night came when Skinner was denied winning either Pac-12 Gymnast or Freshman of the Year honors. After a record setting regular season that saw her win an unprecedented seven Gymnast of the Week awards and tying for the most Freshman of the Week (6) awards in Pac-12 history, Skinner punctuated her excellence with three Pac-12 titles tonight at the championship.
What did the No. 2 ranked all-arounder in the country have to say about the snub from the Pac-12 coaches who vote on the awards? “It’s OK. What matters is the team title and we won it!” she said.
Skinner had an incredible supporting cast in giving Tom Farden his first Pac-12 Championship as a co-head coach with Megan Marsden. Marsden was also the co-coach for Utah’s 2014 and 2015 Pac-12 championships when Farden was the assistant.
“We are so proud of these kids,” said Farden. “Our demeanor all week in practice has been calm, aggressive and determined. We knew this would be a meet of inches, and we responded on every events with landings that were spot on. The kids were confident, relaxed and built off each other’s routines. This is a group of fighters. MyKayla Skinner is by far the best gymnast in the Pac-12 and I’m proud she proved it again by winning the all-around here.”
Senior Baely Rowe placed second in the all-around with a 39.575.
Utah got off to a sizzling start on bars and never let up, posting meet highs on bars (49.425), floor (49.625) and vault (49.475). Utah’s second-best bar score of the season featured silver-medal winning 9.90 routines from Missy Reinstadtler and Kari Lee. The freshman Reinstadtler’s was a personal best. Skinner, Lewis and Rowe added 9.875s to the total. After one rotation, Utah and Washington were tied at 49.425, followed by OSU (49.350) and UCLA (49.150).
Beam featured a blistering finish and a 49.400 result. Utah’s final five gymnasts responded to a mistake from leadoff Maddy Stover with walk-through beam routines starting with 9.85s from MaKenna Merrell and Reinstadtler. Following in succession came 9.90 scores from Skinner, Lee and Rowe. Utah (98.825) needed all those tenths to hold the lead over Washington (98.700) and Oregon State (98.675), with UCLA (98.100) in fourth at the midway point.
In round three, the first three Utes on floor maintained the torrid pace with Macey Roberts tying her career high (the best of her Ute career) with a 9.90, followed by a 9.90 from Reinstadtler and a career-tying 9.925 from Lewis. After a blip from Lee, who stepped out of bounds on her first pass, the Utes again responded big—this time with a 9.90 from Rowe and a perfect 10.0 from Skinner.
The Utes left no room for doubt on their last event. Lewis reached perfection of sorts with her 9.95 vault score and co-championship with Skinner since her start value was a 9.95. Skinner’s 9.95 sealed the victory for Utah before Shannon McNatt had the team’s only fall of the night. McNatt, who tweaked her knee on her landing, was evaluated after the meet and is not seriously injured.
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