Live Blog: No.9 California at No. 4 Utah

We are wrapping up Friday night coverage with a great matchup between the two leading Pac-12 conference teams. Both California and Utah come into this meet undefeated, meaning that the winner will walk away as the clear favorite for the conference’s regular season title. The Utes are aiming for their second straight title, while the Golden Bears are trying to upset the norm.

Utah’s success in 2021 has truly been a team effort with 12 of 13 gymnasts on the roster making a competition lineup at some point during the season. Maile O’Keefe and Cristal Isa have both been great all arounders, while specialists like Alexia Burch, Abby Paulson, and Sydney Soloski have been great at bringing in huge scores in their limited events. Burch has stuck her vault for 9.975’s the past two weeks, so look for her to try and stick again to earn that elusive perfect 10. While beam is Utah’s overall strongest event, the Utes haven’t been as strong as preseason expectations would’ve hoped. Utah’s beam lineup can be phenomenal, and a fully hit six routines will likely be necessary to win tonight.

While Utah leans on specialists, California is home to the all arounders. The Golden Bears have a core of three all arounders who are putting up half of the team’s routines each meet, and a few three event specialists hot on their heels. Kyana George, Maya Bordas, and Nevaeh DeSouza have been those all arounders, and freshman Andi Li is finally breaking out of her shell and has broken into all but the floor lineups so far. With the roster it has, bars should easily be the standout event for California, but inconsistency and Emi Watterson not being at full strength have brought scores down a bit this season. The Golden Bears have put up two mid-49s on bars the last two meets, so keep an eye out to see if they can repeat that performance.

Follow along with scores and video!

A first look at lineups for the Golden Bears.

Pretty much what I would’ve expected coming in. I could see a potential sub on bars swapping Maya Green for Emi Watterson, but that’s about it.

California has never won at the Huntsman Center. A storyline to watch throughout the meet!

Rotation 1: Utah Vault, California Bars

Isa (Utah): Yfull. Nice form and a near stick. 9.775

DeSouza (Cal): Giant half to piked jager to overshoot, solid, hops to high bar, hits the handstand, FTDT dismount with a lean on the landing. 9.800

O’Keefe (Utah): Yfull. Good form again but a step back. 9.800

Li (Cal): Hits the first handstand into the pak, toe on shaposh half, hit well, good final handstand, giant full a little over to double tuck dismount, small hop back. 9.800

Hall (Utah): The first of the Y1.5s. Good block and just a step forward on the landing. 9.875

George (Cal): Tkatchev, looked like she could’ve caught but falls, Amanda Borden lets us know she did the same in the one touch, nice bail after remounting, toe on to FTDT dismount, small hop back. 9.175

Stanhope (Utah): Y1.5. Really nice distance, the tiniest of slides back on the landing. 9.875

Schank (Cal): Giant half to piked jager to overshoot, clean, hops to high bar, nice final handstand, sticks the double layout dismount! Great hit after a fall. 9.875

Rucker (Utah): Y1.5. Comes in a bit short so has to take a big step back to steady herself. 9.825

Bordas (Cal): Giant half to a huge jager to overshoot, a little funky on the way down to the low bar, a little past handstand on her giant full into double tuck, small hop. 9.850

Burch (Utah): Y1.5. She loses her stick streak. Comes in a little short like Rucker. 9.800

Green (Cal): Clear hip to gienger, nice bail, hops to high bar, good handstand, sticks the FTDT! 9.875

After 1: California 49.200, Utah 49.175

We’ve got a close one! Utah had the advantage on vault with its difficulty, but looked a little flat and could not find landings tonight. California on the other hand was able to figure out landings and find a way to edge the Utes to start the meet. As expected, this should be an exciting meet.

Rotation 2: California Vault, Utah Bars

Schank (Cal): Yfull. Good form, a little off to the side, decent hop. 9.775

Paulson (Utah): Maloney to pak, switch kip, hop to high bar, great handstand, giant full to stuck double tuck, small lean. 9.800

Bordas (Cal): Yfull. Pretty piked on the landing and a hop in place. 9.775

Sabado (Utah): Nice first handstand, giant half to jager, a little crooked, toe on to bail to toe shoot to high bar, good handstand, double layout with a small shuffle back. 9.800

Clausi (Cal): Obviously cutting to her mom the famous Ute prior to her vault. Yfull. Nearly a stuck landing just a small slide with the left foot. 9.900

Burch (Utah): Mounts on the high bar, hop to jager, great, nice bail handstand, great final handstand, small hop in place on the double layout. 9.850

George (Cal): Yfull. Huge off the table, tiny hop back. 9.875

Leblanc (Utah): Giant half to jager to overshoot, solid form, jumps to high bar, good handstand, super high and stuck double layout! 9.850

DeSouza (Cal): Y1.5. Nearly stuck, just steps into her salute, nice amplitude. 9.875

O’Keefe (Utah): Maloney to pak, gorgeous, half pirouette perfect, jumps to high bar, nice final handstand, double arabian dismount, step back. 9.875

Li (Cal): Yfull. Nice form and just a hop in place. 9.850

Isa (Utah): Ray, good form, bail done well, hops up to the high bar, giant full to double layout, small hop back. 9.875

Rotation 2: California 49.275, Utah 49.250

After 2: California 98.475, Utah 98.425

And it’s still a tight one! California was surprisingly able to outscore Utah on vault with less difficulty with more controlled landings, while the Utes surprisingly outscored the Golden Bears on bars where California is usually better. The Golden Bears have put themselves in a good spot with the slight lead, but will need to continue to hit as Utah still has its best two events to come.

Rotation 3: Utah Beam, California Floor

Burch (Utah): Gets beam rolling with a full turn, moving very quickly, BHS LOSO, big wobble but stays on, split jump to double stag, solid, cat leap to front aerial, stuck gainer full dismount. 9.750

Quinn (Cal): Opens with a front layout to Rudi, controls the landing, switch side to straddle full, hits her splits, dismounts with a double pike, a little overrotated but just takes one big lunge to save a fall. 9.800

Stanhope (Utah): Switch leap to switch leap mount, a little leg check, full twisting BHS to BHS, very sturdy, beat jump, full turn, looks relaxed, dismounts with a RO 1.5, steps to the side. 9.800

Bordas (Cal): Mounts with a great double tuck, RO 1.5 to front layout, some form issues in the front layout, cleanly through her leaps, closes with a Rudi, nice landing. 9.825

Isa (Utah): Back dive mount, hits the handstand perfectly, BHS LOSO LOSO, beautiful, easy full turn, straddle jump to straddle side, confident, BHS to stuck gainer full! Great routine! 9.950

DeSouza (Cal): Starts off with a double pike, big lunge but controls it, switch side to straddle full, turns out of it, RO 1.5 to front full, solid landing, Rudi with another big lunge to close. 9.825

Paulson (Utah): Side aerial to LOSO, small check, switch leap to split jump, full turn, nice flow to her routine, cat leap to side aerial to stuck layout full! A good bounce back after last week’s fall. 9.950

Green (Cal): RO 1.5 to front full, steps out of it to control the landing, switch leap to switch ring full, Rudi, bouncy landing. 9.825

Randall (Utah): Quick full turn, BHS LOSO, sharp landing, beat jump to sheep jump, small adjustment, sissone, Rufolva, dismounts with a RO 1.5, steps into her salute. 9.825

Clausi (Cal): Mounts with a big double pike, switch side to straddle full, a bit short of 180 in the splits, RO 1.5 to front layout, dances out of it, double tuck, a bit of a squat but covers it well. 9.850

O’Keefe (Utah): Side aerial to LOSO, flawless, switch leap to split leap, so fluid in her movement, moves well through the full turn, cat leap to side aerial and a stuck layout full! 9.975!

George (Cal): Opens with a great front double full punch front tuck, lots of energy in this routine, switch ring to tour jete half, definitely hits her splits, RO LOSO BHS choreography but to also get the back tumbling requirement, Rudi with a controlled lunge to close. 9.875

Rotation 3: Utah 49.500, California 49.200

After 3: Utah 147.925, California 147.675

Utah went to beam, did exactly what it wanted and needed to do, and came away with the result it wanted. Isa, Paulson and O’Keefe came in clutch with those big scores to give the Utes the lead for the first time tonight. California has kept it close though, and will need a fully hit beam rotation in case the Utes start flirting with falls or the out of bounds line in the last rotation.

Rotation 4: California Beam, Utah Floor

Clausi (Cal): Gets started with a front toss to beat jump, BHS LOSO, moving quickly, cat leap to switch side, a bit of a lean forward, full turn, fun headstand, side aerial to tucked full dismount and sticks it. 9.875

Gilstrap (Utah): Mounts with a pretty double tuck, front layout to Rudi, switch ring to tour jete half, easily hits her splits, dismounts with a front layout to front full and an controlled step. 9.850

DeSouza (Cal): Front aerial to sissone, a bit of a long connection, BHS LOSO, tiny check, beat jump to sheep jump, full turn, closes with a RO 1.5, sticks it! 9.875

Paulson (Utah): Opening front layout to front full to stag jump, easily controlled, RO BHS 2.5 second pass, a big step forward but keeps it in bounds, switch leap to switch full, RO 1.5 to front layout and dances right out. 9.850

Li (Cal): Forward roll onto the beam, front aerial to beat jump, BHS LOSO, small check, full turn, switch ring to beat jump, a bit of a lean to the side, stuck gainer pike dismount! 9.875

Stanhope (Utah): Big full-in to open, nice landing, great landing on the double tuck second pass, switch side to wolf jump full, a little wonky, RO 1.5 to front layout and a great landing yet again. 9.850

George (Cal): Front aerial to back tuck, secure landing, double wolf turn, no problems, hitch kick, beat jump to ring jump, so confident, stuck gainer full! 9.925

Rucker (Utah): Fantastic full-in, good landings in all her leaps, great height as well, front layout to front full, well controlled landing. Should be a big score! 9.950

Bordas (Cal): Hitch kick to front aerial to split jump, a bit of a pause in the last connection, BHS LOSO, switch leap to split jump, full turn, BHS gainer full, stuck! 9.900

O’Keefe (Utah): Double pike first pass, perfect lunge, front layout to front full, bit uncontrolled on the step forward, switch leap to tour jete full, RO 1.5 front layout final pass. 9.875

Watterson (Cal): No pressure routine after five hits and the win just out of reach mathematically. Nice double wolf turn, BHS LOSO, just a wobble to the side, switch leap to split leap, cat leap to side aerial to stuck layout full. All stuck dismounts for California! 9.875

Soloski (Utah): Big opening double layout, very bouncy in her leaps, a little off balance, front layout to front full, good landing, RO 1.5 to floaty front layout. 9.925

Rotation 4: California 49.450, Utah 49.450

Final: Utah 197.375, California 197.125

Great final rotation to wrap up a great meet, just as expected! Both teams got complete hits out of their final lineups, putting up the exact same event totals and maintaining Utah’s slight edge to give them the win. The Utes will be a little upset to still fall short of the 198 other contenders have put up, but now have the green light for the Pac-12 regular season title. California will be pleased with its third 197+ score in a row and putting the opening 195 in the rearview mirror.

Event Winners

Vault: Clausi 9.900

Bars: Green, Isa, O’Keefe, Schank 9.875

Beam: O’Keefe 9.975

Floor: Rucker 9.950

All Around: O’Keefe 39.525

Live blog by Brandis Heffner

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