2020 Utah Utes

2020 UTAH ROSTER
Seniors
Missy Reinstadtler
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed UB every meet in 2019
  • #1 returning score on UB (9.895)
  • Showed 2 FXs (9.825 avg), 2 BBs (1 hit), 1 VT (9.700)
  • Competed AA in 13 of 14 meets in 2018 season
Kim Tessen
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed weekly UB in 2019
  • VT in 11 of 15 meets
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.860), VT (9.845)
  • Showed 1 FX for 9.825
Juniors
Alexia Burch
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed weekly VT in 2019
  • #1 returning score on VT (9.855)
  • Made final BB lineup (NQS 9.705)
  • Showed 4 FXs, 9.756 average
Emilie LeBlanc
VT
UB
BB
  • Transfer from Maryland
  • Competed UB, BB every meet in 2019
  • NQS of 9.840 UB, 9.835 BB
Sydney Soloski
VT
BB
FX
  • Competed weekly FX in 2019
  • #1 returning FX score (9.905)
  • Made final BB lineup, NQS of 9.785
Sophomores
Hunter Dula
UB
  • Staple of UB lineup in 2019
  • #3 returning score on UB (9.835)
  • No longer listed for BB, FX
Cammy Hall
VT
  • Missed entire 2019 season with injury
Cristal Isa
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed in first 4 meets in 2019 before season-ending injury
  • Showed 4 UBs (9.875 avg), 2 VTs (9.750 avg), 1 BB (9.850)
Adrienne Randall
BB
FX
  • Competed weekly BB in 2019
  • #1 returning BB score (9.865)
  • Made final FX lineup with #2 returning score (9.865)
Freshmen
Jillian Hoffman
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • SCEGA
  • 2nd AA, 2019 Nastia Cup
  • 1st AA, 2017 JO Nationals
Maile O’Keefe
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Salcianu
  • 2016 & 2017 US junior national champion
Abby Paulson
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Twin City
  • 7th AA, 2019 JO Nationals
  • 2nd AA, 2017 US Classic
Jaedyn Rucker
 
  • Out indefinitely with knee injury
  • Desert Devils
  • 2nd AA, 1st VT 2018 JO Nationals

FINAL SEASON RANKING
2019 – 7th
2018 – 5th
2017 – 5th
2016 – 9th
2015 – 2nd
2014 – 7th
2013 – 9th
2012 – 5th
2011 – 5th
2010 – 6th

THE 2019 STORY
Utah’s 2019 season will go down as acceptable yet ultimately unsatisfying. The team continued its streak of having advanced to every nationals despite it becoming a lot harder to do that in 2019 (so job #1 done), but also it’s Utah. No one’s going to be hanging banners about a 7th-place finish.

Utah spent the 2019 regular season ranked 4-6, so 7th will also feel somewhat under-representative of the team’s quality, a result mostly based on a 9.7-athon on beam in the national semifinal that put Utah 4th in the session.

DEPARTED 2019 ROUTINES
MyKayla Skinner – VT, UB, BB, FX
Makenna Merrell-Giles – VT, UB, BB, FX
Kari Lee – VT, UB, BB, FX
Macey Roberts – VT, FX
Shannon McNatt – BB

There are no two ways about it: it’s a bloodbath out there. Utah has lost the majority of its 2019 routines, 14 of the 24 sets that made the final lineups, 8 of 12 sets that made the back half of lineups, and 5 of 6 NQSs of 9.9 or greater. Only mild vestiges of a foundation remain, and the team largely has to build back up from scratch in 2020.

INCOMING GYMNASTS
A huge part of that project will be Utah’s exceptionally accomplished freshman class, of which three are expected to contribute multiple late-lineup quality routines—if not the all-around—with Maile O’Keefe among the most decorated athletes ever to come to Utah.

Sadly, word from Utah is that Jaedyn Rucker is out “indefinitely after sustaining a knee injury” which doesn’t sound great. She’s the freshman I was most excited about in this class, so this is why we can’t have nice things.

2020 PROJECTION
Utah has lost too many important routines to feel comfortable pasting last season’s results onto this season’s roster. At least for now. So much is dependent upon freshman coming through consistently and perennially injured upperclasswomen staying healthy for an entire season—neither of which are givens. There’s a very real possibility that the new 9.950s just don’t emerge and Utah drops this season.

The talent, however, is present on this roster to return to last year’s level…for the most part. You can never assume Skinner-quality scores, even from someone as accomplished as O’Keefe, but if everything falls into place with these new ones, this should be a nationals team once again.

VAULT

2019 Event Ranking: 2

Lineup locks: Kim Tessen, Cammy Hall, Maile O’Keefe
Lineup options: Alexia Burch, Missy Reinstadtler, Jillian Hoffman, Cristal Isa, Abby Paulson, Emilie LeBlanc, Sydney Soloski

Wasn’t it interesting to see Utah not going for full difficulty or landings in the Red Rocks Preview? That’s totally normal for most teams for this time of year, especially moving to hard landings with a small and somewhat injury-prone roster, but Utah is typically prepared so early in the preseason that it was definitely surprising to see the team not showing “these will be our exact January 3rd vaults!” on vault. A different approach this season? Because of strategy or necessity?

That means vault is in a bit of a “we’ll see” state right now because national competitiveness is so dependent on vaults we haven’t glimpsed before—like the prospective 1.5 from Hall. That’s what she’s here for, and the team will look to have Hall in the lineup, along with hopefully something good from O’Keefe because if you had a DTY in elite…

Tessen’s is the proven 10.0 start returning to the lineup, which is usually good for 9.850s. We saw Alexia Burch attempt to upgrade to the 1.5 at RRP—the lone 10.0 start we saw—but she fell with a short landing, so that one is still TBD (though I’d have her in the lineup regardless, even if she’s back to the full). Utah will also want to get Reinstadtler into the group, Hoffman is a potential upgrade project or clean full option, and there are a bunch of other viable fulls hanging around of which Isa probably has the best one.

Utah won’t have trouble coming up with a vault lineup of six—with a few backups to spare—that can go 49.2s and 49.3s, but the path replicating the scores from Skinner and MMG is not yet apparent. So don’t be surprised if we see backpedaling from last year’s 2nd-place vault ranking.

BARS

2019 Event Ranking: 5

Lineup locks: Missy Reinstadtler, Maile O’Keefe, Kim Tessen, Hunter Dula
Lineup options: Cristal Isa, Emilie LeBlanc, Jillian Hoffman, Alexia Burch, Abby Paulson

For not being a deep team, Utah is kind of a deep team. This roster is very small compared to most teams and several of the athletes aren’t going to train bars at all, but the bars group is still 8 or 9 deep, which should give the team enough room to pick and choose the best routines. Reinstadtler has the strongest returning routine in the group, but this is also among the events where O’Keefe will bring a wow set that could end up as Utah’s high score. Her actual fully legs-together Shap and Pak combination gives her a built-in cleanliness advantage compared to most bars routines we see. The double Arabian dismount makes me nervous, of course, but it should be a good routine.

Hunter Dula’s toe point is too pretty not to be in this lineup, Tessen recorded solid scores all of last season (and won me over with a Spencer handstand at the RRP), Isa had her best moments on bars when she was healthy last year, and LeBlanc will bring a viable routine here on her best event. That looks like the six right now, but Hoffman is a believable lineup possibility and Burch is attempting to add bars in 2020.

As on every event, not having all of those important routines from last year will be a blow this time around, but on bars the path to replacing those scores is a little clearer.

BEAM

2019 Event Ranking: 9

Lineup locks: Maile O’Keefe, Adrienne Randall, Abby Paulson
Lineup options: Missy Reinstadtler, Cristal Isa, Kim Tessen, Alexia Burch, Sydney Soloski, Emilie LeBlanc

Beam was Utah’s weakest event in 2019 but also provides its most exciting potential for 2020. Dare I say even improvement? At least, Skinner’s score is the most replaceable here. It’s not unusual for beam to be the farthest along at this point in the preseason, but this lineup was definitely the highlight of the RRP. Maile O’Keefe’s routine is wildly important. She has the difficulty and the actual pristine leap positions to score exceptionally well. We love to see it. Get her in a lineup with Randall, and get Reinstadtler back in there (?), and you have the core of a legitimately 9.9-able group and several gymnasts that shouldn’t get 9.800ed for feet and splits once getting to nationals like usual.

In terms of lineup changes, I was also impressed by what we saw from Tessen on beam and would keep an eye on that one, even if she’s not necessarily a favorite to make the six. She has the chops. But for the non-O’Keefe and Randall spots, it’s really going to be a race to see whose dance elements are the most viable because the team doesn’t lack for acro ability on beam with Paulson and Soloski and Isa and Burch and LeBlanc. Paulson is a frontrunner—like O’Keefe she is retaining her side aerial + loso series for college, which will be impressive—but it feels like other than her, the lineup could go many different ways.

FLOOR

2019 Event Ranking: 5

Lineup locks: Sydney Soloski, Jillian Hoffman, Adrienne Randall, Maile O’Keefe,
Lineup options: Kim Tessen, Missy Reinstadtler, Abby Paulson, Cristal Isa, Alexia Burch

Floor and vault will prove the toughest for Utah in trying to keep up with last year’s lineups. It’s the nature of the beast when you have that weekly 9.900, 9.950 punch front MMG and Skinner go away, but the team will look to Hoffman and Soloski to fill those roles. Most of the score-replacement duties on other pieces will fall to O’Keefe (and she’ll be important here too), but Hoffman was a wildly successful JO gymnast on floor and that DLO will help her score very well in NCAA. Soloski is ready to move into that anchor position, and it even looks like they’ve gotten rid of that double full, so I don’t have anything to be annoyed about anymore.

Randall will return to the lineup with her E pass, and O’Keefe is going to called upon for some serious scores as well. The nice thing for O’Keefe will be that she’s so good at elite-level leaps that she can build up a lot of her difficulty through dance elements and doesn’t have to kill herself on the tumbling, which didn’t look there yet (for either her or Randall) at the RRP. Tessen is looking useful here with a front 2/1, and ideally you’ll have Paulson in this lineup given her floor talent. But also ideally you’d have Reinstadtler in here because of Reinstadtler, and that’s already seven people before getting to Isa and Burch, who look to be delivering 9.825y double back options.

So the routines are there, and while we can expect a little bit of score drain without Skinner, this is also the kind of lineup that’s going to have plenty of home meets that go 9.900, 9.925, 9.950 in the final three spots. So I wouldn’t be too worried about it.

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