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July 31, 2021

'Tonight was pretty spectacular': No. 4 Red Rocks claim regular season title in dominant win over No. 23 Oregon State

SALT LAKE CITY — Sophomore Maile O’Keefe had a message for the No. 4 Red Rocks ahead of their vital road meet against No. 23 Oregon State.

“Maile was in a great space all day,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “She cares. And one of her goals — she said, ‘We’re going to Oregon to win and to be undefeated.’ And so she vocalized that and then led the way. So it was pretty impressive for a sophomore.”

From the moment O’Keefe stepped on the floor there was nobody that was going to stop her from helping Utah get its final conference win of the season and claiming back-to-back regular-season Pac-12 titles.

O’Keefe, a 5-foot-2 sophomore and the No. 1 rated gymnast on beam in the country, scored no less than a 9.90 in all four events to claim a season-high 39.725 all-around score to help lift Utah to a season-high 197.575-196.425 win over Oregon State at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon.

O’Keefe closed out the meet with her patented beam routine with a 9.975 score to secure an incredible beam team performance. The Red Rocks scored a season-high 49.600 and scored no lower than 9.825 in the event.

Alexia Burch set the tone on beam with a 9.90 score and was later followed up by back-to-back 9.950 scores from Cristal Isa (a last- minute add in the all-around) and Abby Paulson. Lucy Stanhope and Adrienne Randall both recorded a 9.825 to bookend Isa and Paulson, and then O’Keefe closed it out with her 9.975 score — another near-perfect for the second consecutive week.

“Yeah, I mean, balance beam throughout the year — we had a lot of returners from last year on the balance beam, so I think that does help with familiarity,” Farden said. “We undulated just a little bit but they seem to be striking postseason form at the right time. And we know that beam is an event for us that’s a weapon. And so tonight was pretty spectacular.”

It was spectacular for Utah for multiple reasons: the Red Rocks closed out their conference slate with a season-high all-around score, a season-high beam score, a much-needed road score to add to its NQS score, back-to-back conference titles and an undefeated conference slate for two seasons straight. For all of it to come on the same night only added to the importance.

“Our general feeling is, that’s two years in a row in one of the toughest conferences; to be unscathed and undefeated two years in a row in our conferences — it speaks volumes for our athletes being able to win on the road and at home,” Farden said. “And, obviously, the Pac-12 has some rising — the thoroughbreds and some blue bloods — but then some rising, talented teams that really tested us this year, so we’re very proud of the program and grateful that our athletes were in a good mind space tonight and did what they did.”

The Red Rocks opened up the night on bars where they recorded a 49.225 score, and the scores only grew from there. Utah upped its score a tenth each rotation — 49.325 on vaults, 49.425 on floor — and then exploded for the final event of the night.

“We were incrementally going up one-tenth perfect, and then we said to the athletes let’s try to do better than one-tenth on beam — I’m joking, we didn’t say that to them; they just went out there and knocked out an incredible beam team set,” Farden joked.

Adding to the standout night was a career-high 9.90 score for Jaedyn Rucker on vault, a career-high 9.950 score on bars and a career-tying 9.90 score on vault for O’Keefe, and a seventh straight score over 9.90 on floor for senior Sydney Soloski.

Utah has one more meet left in its regular season, a Friday night home meet against No. 20 Utah State (7 p.m. MT), before the Pac-12 Championships on March 20 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

Utah Scores:

1st Rotation:

  • Abby Paulson: 9.725
  • Alani Sabado: 9.775
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9.275
  • Emilie LeBlanc: 9.875
  • Maile O’Keefe: 9.950
  • Cristal Isa: 9.900

2nd Rotation:

  • Cristal Isa: 9.775
  • Cammy Hall: 9.850
  • Maile O’Keefe: 9.900
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9.825
  • Jaedyn Rucker: 9.900
  • Alexia Burch: 9.850

3rd Rotation:

  • Jaylene Gilstrap: 9.650
  • Cristal Isa: 9.850
  • Abby Paulson: 9.850
  • Jaedyn Rucker: 9.900
  • Maile O’Keefe: 9.900
  • Sydney Soloski: 9.925

4th Rotation:

  • Alexia Burch: 9.900
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9.825
  • Cristal Isa: 9.950
  • Abby Paulson: 9.950
  • Adrienne Randall: 9.825
  • Maile O’Keefe: 9.975

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