SALT LAKE CITY – Two-time World champions and two of the nation's top elite gymnasts - Kara Eaker and Grace McCallum - locked in their futures with Utah gymnastics on National Signing Day. As two of the most decorated signees in program history, the duo will vie for a 2021 Olympic Team berth prior to continuing their illustrious gymnastics careers in Salt Lake City.
Tallying four gold medals between the two future Utes, Eaker and McCallum were World champions with Team USA back-to-back years at the World Championships. At the 2019 World Championships last October, there was a significant Red Rock presence as the six-gymnast Team USA squad contained three Utes in Stuttgart, Germany. Not an easy feat to achieve, Eaker, McCallum, and MyKayla Skinner earned berths on the Worlds team to make up half of the selected elites at the largest event of the year.
"Kara and Grace's accolades speak for themselves," said Utah head coach Tom Farden. "They are some of the most accomplished gymnasts in the U.S. and are both legitimate contenders for the 202One Olympics next summer. This is one of the finest recruiting classes in the country and history of our storied program."
Loaded with experience and tremendous success as teammates, the Ute signees have been U.S. National Team members together since 2018 and were teammates with Skinner this past year in her return to elite. Adding to the Red Rock connection, Eaker and McCallum will also reunite with current Ute and former National Team member Maile O'Keefe. Additionally, McCallum will reunite with club teammate Abby Paulson. Eaker and McCallum were also teammates early in their senior elite careers when they competed for the gold-medal winning Team USA at the 2018 Pan American Championships.
Kara Eaker | Grain Valley, Mo. | GAGE
"Kara's gymnastics has impeccable precision and a mesmerizing flow that our fans will love," said Farden. "Her signature event is balance beam where she has been a multiple World finalist. We are thrilled for her to be joining our Red Rock family."
Eaker is a two-time U.S. Senior National Team member (2018-19, 2019-20) and was a member of the U.S. Junior National Team in 2017-18. Eaker aided Team USA to consecutive team gold medals at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships, while also shining individually on her strongest event. Eaker advanced to the beam finals at both World Championships, placing fourth last year and sixth the year prior.
The Grain Valley, Mo. native was named to the World team after exceptional selection camp performances both years. Eaker placed first on beam and third in the all-around, floor and bars in 2019. She also finished first on beam at the 2018 selection camp among the national team members.
Outside of the World Championships, Eaker represented Team USA at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru where she earned a team gold medal, an individual gold medal on beam, and a silver medal on floor. She earned a team gold medal with Team USA the year prior to the 2018 Pan American Championships. Eaker was also the gold medalist on beam and bronze medalist on the floor. Most recently against international competition, Eaker competed with Team USA at the 2019 Gymnix International where she went on to win three gold medals – team, all-around, and beam.
On the national stage, Eaker has been a U.S. Championships and U.S. Classic qualifier since 2017. Of the six events, Eaker has placed in the top-five on beam in all meets and top-two in four outings. At the U.S. Championships, Eaker claimed the gold medal on beam in 2017 (Jr. Div.) and the silver medal in 2018 and 2019, finishing only behind Simone Biles. At the 2019 U.S. Classic, Eaker won the gold medal on beam, while she finished fourth in the all-around and on floor.
Additionally, Eaker is a two-time gold medalist on beam and two-time silver medalist on floor at the American Classic.
Eaker trains at Great American Gymnastics Express (GAGE) and is coached by Al Fong and Armine Barutyan. Eaker will graduate from Grain Valley High School in the spring. She is the daughter of Mark and Katherine Eaker and has three siblings: Katrina, Aron, and Sara.
Grace McCallum | Isanti, Minn. | Twin City Twisters
"Grace has the perfect balance of power and artistry," explained Farden. "She is a world-class athlete and her signature is that she is a pure all-around gymnast ready to dazzle on all four events! We are elated to have Grace join our program."
McCallum has been on the U.S. Senior National Team since she was named to the squad in the spring of 2018. The Isanti, Minn. native helped guide Team USA to back-to-back gold medals at the World Championships in 2018 and 2019. She earned her first World Championship team berth after placing second on floor and third in the all-around at the 2018 selection camp.
In the spring of 2019, McCallum continued her international assignments when she competed at the American Cup. McCallum put her talent as an all-arounder on display once more when she claimed the silver medal in the all-around after placing in the top-three on every event. McCallum finished second on vault and beam, and third on bars and floor.
McCallum had a breakout event at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships while representing Team USA for the first time in her senior elite career. McCallum led the team to a gold medal finish in Medellin, Colombia, and claimed gold in the all-around. She also finished as the silver medalist on floor and vault to cap off the event. At the 2018 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru, McCallum backed her previous performance and led Team USA to another gold medal after winning the individual gold in the all-around and on bars. She also took home the bronze medal on vault and beam and placed fourth on floor.
McCallum has competed against the nation's top gymnasts at the U.S. Championships and U.S. Classic since 2017 where she has shown her consistency as an all-arounder. McCallum placed third in the all-around at the 2019 U.S. Championships and fourth in the all-around at the event in 2018. At the 2019 U.S. Classic, she finished second on floor, third in the all-around, tied for third on bars, and was fifth on beam. McCallum earned the silver medal on bars at the 2018 American Classic in the Huntsman Center and was the 2017 American Classic silver medalist on vault and bronze medalist on floor.
She is coached by Sarah Jantzi, Steve Hafeman, Sami Wozney, and Mike Hunger, and trains at Twin City Twisters. She is the daughter of Edward and Sandy McCallum and has five siblings: Rachael, Madelyn, Joseph, John, and Xavier. She will graduate from Minnesota Connections Academy this spring.