Southern Utah University gymnastics fought their hearts out for a 196.600 score as their team season drew to a close with a third place finish in the March 30 Los Angeles regional semifinals. The University of Utah Red Rocks dominated with a 198.125, the University of Washington GymDawgs snuck into second with a 196.775 and the Auburn University Tigers fell to last with a season-low 195.900.
The showdown for second
Utah pulled ahead early, maintaining a strong lead throughout the meet. However, it was a thrilling battle for the second-place spot, which provided Washington the opportunity to advance to the regional final.
The Flippin’ Birds got off to a rough start on the bars. Despite a beautiful 9.900 from graduate student Shylen Murakami, SUU could only muster a 48.950 to kick off the meet, quickly falling behind the opposition.
On the beam, their solid team performance of 49.225 kept them within range of their competition. All of SUU’s scorers landed between 9.825 and 9.875 in the well-rounded effort. With the momentum swinging in their favor, the Flippin’ Birds prepared to mount a comeback.
By the third rotation, No. 12-seeded Auburn had comfortably settled into second, but in a quick turn of events, they struggled on bars and fell into last. Seizing the opportunity, the Flippin’ Birds rallied on the floor with a 49.275. Graduate student Karley McClain’s 9.925 tied for the highest score in the meet.
The final spot to advance came down to a close fight between SUU and the GymDawgs. Even with a thrilling 9.925 vault pitched in by graduate student Caitlin Kho, Southern Utah’s team score of 49.100 wasn’t enough to keep them ahead of Washington.
SUU’s incredible team season is now closed. The No. 21-ranked Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference champions will look forward to extending the program’s growing legacy next year.
Story by: Kale Nelson
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics