Year In Review: Utah Red Rocks Light A Fire In 2017
Check out their year in review via Utah Athletics:
SALT LAKE CITY -- Before the season began, the Utah coaches knew their 2017 team was young and talented. But not until the season progressed would they learn just how deep that talent ran. By the time the chalk dust settled at the 2017 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, a case could be made that Utah's roster from top to bottom was the deepest in the country.
After losing 10 of their 24 starting routines (seven performed by All-Americans) during the season to injuries, the Utes could have licked their wounds and looked ahead to next season. Instead, the "Tenacious 12," as they named themselves, seized the opportunity to show off their depth.
And what a show they put on, winning the 2017 Pac-12 Championship--their third in four seasons--and the NCAA Fayetteville Regional to qualify for a record 42nd straight NCAA Championship. Just getting there wasn't enough. Lagging behind the leaders midway through their NCAA semifinal, the Red Rocks roared back on beam and floor to advance to the Super Six for the 20th time in school history.
Freshman MyKayla Skinner, fresh off the 2016 Olympic Games as an alternate on the USA team, electrified fans while becoming Utah's first NCAA floor champion in 25 years and the nation's all-around runner-up. In an NCAA semifinal session loaded with Olympians, Skinner finished first in the all-around, vault, and floor--events she also won at the Pac-12 Championship and NCAA Regionals.
The freshman phenom won 43 individual titles total (second in school history) and set the Utah record for all-around wins in a season (11). She also shattered Pac-12 records for most Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week (seven) and Freshman of the Week (six) awards.
Baely Rowe--the team's lone senior--left an indelible stamp on the program and was named a finalist for the prestigious AAI Award, which is presented to the best senior gymnast in the country. Rowe was named a first-team All-American on floor and a second-team All-American in the all-around in her fourth appearance at the national championships.
But the 2017 Utah season wasn't just the "Skinner-Rowe Show."
Sophomore first-year all-arounder MaKenna Merrell had a breakout season, joining Skinner and Rowe on the All-America team at the NCAA Championships with second-team honors in the all-around, beam, and floor.
Junior Tiffani Lewis shared the Pac-12 vault title with Skinner and earned second-team All-America honors on vault. Sophomore Shannon McNatt--in her first college beam routine to count--won the NCAA Regional beam championship.
Sophomore Kari Lee--a freshman All-American in 2015--came back from a season-ending injury in 2016 to make the all-around lineup, only to sprain her ankle in a postseason practice. Limited to bars at the NCAA Regional and NCAA Championships, Lee's departure allowed Erika Muhaw the opportunity to compete on vault.
Junior co-captain Maddy Stover played her part, initiating the comeback on beam that would launch Utah into the Super Six as Utah's leadoff performer.
Opportunities for freshman Missy Reinstadtler came early in the season after injuries to sophomore all-arounder Sabrina Schwab (an All-American and the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year) and freshman Kim Tessen (a Junior Olympic national champion). Reinstadtler joined Lewis as three-event performers capable of putting up 9.90-plus scores.
First-year Ute Macey Roberts--just the second transfer gymnast ever to compete at Utah--played a decisive role in the team's success as a starter on vault and floor.
Fans turned out in droves to watch their beloved Red Rocks with standing-room crowds the norm in Utah's 15,000-seat Huntsman Center. The Utes broke their own NCAA gymnastics attendance record, averaging 15,224 fans a home meet, and led all women's sports in attendance.
Our Favorite Moments From The 2017 NCAA Season