Jaedyn Rucker points to the crowd during choreography for her floor routine

LIVE BLOG: No. 6 California at No. 4 Utah

Tonight’s prime-time Pac-12 matchup has big implications, with the conference regular season title still in play. Coming into tonight’s meet, California is currently one of two undefeated teams left in the conference, boasting an impressive 3-0-2 record, while the Red Rocks are sitting pretty at 3-1. Assuming Utah wins this matchup, the Red Rocks will go into the lead for the regular season title. If Cal wins, the only thing standing in the way of the regular season title is next week’s matchup against Washington. Though if this season’s Pac-12 regular season has indicated anything, it’s not to count out the possibility of a tie to spice things up. 

This meet also has national implications, with the Red Rocks and the Golden Bears being separated by only .075 in NQS rankings. While the afternoon session of Pac-12 championships is a sure thing for both teams, heading into the postseason in the top four is a priority for both teams. 

Utah does have one major hurdle to get over to keep its top four standing, the loss of star contributor Grace McCallum. The Red Rocks have struggled to breach the mid-197 range since the sophomore went down with a knee injury, and if the past few weeks have proved anything, any team looking to be top-four material needs to be pushing 198 weekly. Utah isn’t without hope, however, as former five-star freshman Makenna Smith has stepped up in the all-around after being absent from the beam lineup for much of the beginning of the season. 

Speaking of successful freshmen, Cal’s eMjae Frazier had a breakout meet last week, scoring a career-high 39.700 in the all-around and earning Pac-12 freshman of the week honors. Frazier, along with Andi Li and Mya Lauzon make up the core of Cal’s lineups and will be the basis for success against a strong Utah team. 

Rotation 1: Utah Vault, California Bars

O’Keefe (Utah) VT: Her first vault of the year. It’s been a hot minute since she’s been in the all-around, but with McCallum out, the opportunity presents itself. Yurchenko full, amazing flair in the air, really commits to the layout position. Small hop back on the landing. 9.85

DeSouza (Cal) UB: Blind to Piked jeager to overshoot, nicely done, a tad over on the blind change. FTDT, right to the edge of the mat, small foot shuffle. 9.85

Brenner (Utah) VT: Yurchenko 1.5, not the most amplitude but pretty good leg form. Some leg separation on the block. Small hop forward and to the side. 9.9

Frazier (Cal) UB: Great first handstand. Maloney to Pak, a bit close on the Pak. Tad bit short on her cast half and final handstand. Double layout, stuck cold. Not quite the 9.95 of last week but good work. 9.925

Gilstrap (Utah) VT: Just a full for her but she takes full advantage of it, stuck cold with her chest forward. A bit off center on the landing, really fights for the landing. 9.825

Perea (Cal) UB: Pak, great leg form, very floaty. Toe on to Van Leeuwen, keeps the legs glued together. Another superb double layout, once again very floatt and stuck cold. Gonna be pushing a perfect score. 9.9

Smith (Utah) VT: Omelianchik, great commitment to the pike shape in the air, a little overrotated causing a large hop forward. Not her best work but a pretty vault. 9.825

Williams (Cal) UB: Maloney to a great Pak. Gets the handstand on the cast half. Legs glued together on the final handstand. Yet another perfect double layout. Really clean work across the board. 9.95

Hoffman (Utah) VT: Another Y1.5, amazing work on the landing, stuck cold with a lean. She’s been so consistent all season. The Red Rocks are fighting for every tenth tonight when it matters. 9.95

Li (Cal) UB: Starting off on the high bar. Very archy Pak. Van Leeuwen, keeps her legs glued. Giant full to double tuck, floats right to the mat, yet another stick for Cal.

Rucker (Utah) VT: Anchoring with a Yurchenko 1.5, another amazing stick. Absolutely amazing form in the air, will this be her 10? Great redemption after a fall last week. It’s a 10.0 for Jaedyn Rucker!

Cesario (Cal) UB: Blind change to Jeager to bail, great amplitude on the Jeager. Back in the lineup after a sprained ankle. Double layout, hop forward. 9.85

AFTER ONE: California 49.575, Utah 49.525

Wow! Amazing work from both teams in the first rotation. Utah looked like it would be behind after one with a few large hops, but Hoffman and Rucker delivered when it mattered most to keep this meet within half a tenth. Cal delivered amazing work on bars as usual, headlined by eMjae Frazier and Andi Li.

Rotation 2: Utah Uneven Bars, California Vault

California has never beaten Utah in Salt Lake City, and if the first rotation is anything to go off of, the Golden Bears are trying to break that streak.

Li (Cal) VT: Starts off the Golden Bears with a Yurchenko full, a little bit of pike throughout. Large hop back. Small things like that are going to matter at a meet this close. 9.8

Morgan (Utah) UB: Maloney to Bhardwaj, a little crooked but caught well. Giant full to double tuck, great landing. Different dismount for her after some struggles in previous weeks.Looks like it paid off! 9.875

Williams (Cal) VT: Another Yurchenko full, a much better landing, only a small pace back. Bigger amplitude and a very nice flair out at the end of the flight phase. 9.85

Smith (Utah) UB: Great first handstand. Maloney to Pak, great leg form throughout. Fairly far over on her cast half. Gets the stick on her double arabian despite being fully sideways for a lot of the salto. Great work throughout. 9.875

Brown (Cal) VT: Third full, underrotates, really going for the stick. Bit of a rebound forward after a stiff landing. Pretty good form in the air. 9.775

Brenner (Utah) UB: Starting on the high bar, blind change to Jeager to overshoot, connected well. Arch in her final cast. A bit loose in body position in her double layout but gets the landing. Hard to make a double layout look good in comparison to those Cal dismounts. 9.95

DeSouza (Cal) VT: The first of Cal’s 10.0 vaults, Yurchenko 1.5, stuck but off-center. She’s been doing an amazing job controlling that landing this year. 9.85

Thompson (Utah) UB: Set up for a big score here. Maloney to Pak, keeps her toes pointed. Perfect cast half, ends right over the bar. Double layout, great height, small step back. 9.9

Lauzon (Cal) VT: Another Yurchenko 1.5, great technique in the air, very powerful in the air. Coming off of a bit of an elbow injury. Medium-sized hop forward. 9.85

O’Keefe (Utah) UB: Great first handstand. Maloney to Pak, very archy in the last skill. Nice work in the cast half. A bit of a low squat on her double arabian but gets the stick. She flips so high that she has seemingly years to spot the landing. 9.95

Frazier (Cal) VT: Double twisting Yurchenko, twists very quickly off of the table. A bit of a large lunge back, giving up some valuable tenths. 9.8

Isa (Utah) UB: Small arch on the first handstand. Ray, followed by a bit of a crooked bail. Giant full to double layout, not the most height but a very impressive combo. Small hop back. 9.925

AFTER TWO: California 98.725, Utah 99.125

Cal brought the same amazing technique from bars over to vault, but the Bears were unable to really hone in on the landings the same way Utah did. Even without McCallum, Utah put up an incredibly impressive 49.6 on bars, and is well on course for a 198+ score if the final two rotations go to plan.

Rotation 3: Utah Balance Beam, California Floor 

Some serious Single Ladies dancing going on here. Great shot of the doTerra beam.

Morgan (Utah) BB: Front walkover mount, beautiful start. Back handspring to bhs to loso, really floats into that landing. Split to straddle 1/2, a tiny bit underrotated. Full turn, incredibly smooth. Front gainer full off the side, sticks the landing! 9.925

DeSouza (Cal) FX: Starts off with a Rudi to a bit of an indiscriminate jump, not much commitment to a real shape there. Switch side half to wolf jump, mostly around. Comes back with a back 3/2 to front 1/1, the smallest bit underrotated but controls the landing nicely. 9.75

Smith (Utah) BB: New to this lineup after the McCallum injury. Switch to split leap, great split positions. Doing beam to Fancy by Iggy Azealia. Cat leap to front aerial to split, very pretty combination. Back handspring to loso, a small leg up check. Full turn. Cartwheel to gainer full, a bit flat in the air but gets the stick. Don’t tell Georgia but she did a moonwalk. 9.875

Kane (Cal) FX: Her first floor routine of the season, looking to replace the first score. Front full to front full, nicely done but a bit off in the air. Switch side to wolf jump half. Roundoff to loso to fulfill the backwards salto requirement. Rudi is a big struggle, rebounds forward after underrotating. 9.775

Paulson (Utah) BB: Side aerial to loso, amazing control on the landing, just looks so easy for her. Switch leap to split leap, great splits. Full turn, a bit of a bobble on the landing. Beat jump to side aerial to back 3/2, a new dismount for her and a stuck landing! 9.975 feels high for me.

Williams (Cal) FX: Things are slipping away for Cal after some mistakes in the first two routines. Front layout to Rudi, small foot slide back. Wolf turn 2/1. Switch half to split jump, great toepoint. Back 3/2 to a floaty front layout, spets out of it quickly. 9.875

Eaker (Utah) BB: Switch leap mount, nicely controlled. Switch leap to split jump, amazing prose. Kicks out of her full turn. Side aerial to loso, another incredibly smooth and hard series. Very graceful choreo, someone just yelled “BEAUTIFUL” in the background and I can’t agree more. Cartwheel to gainer full, that dismount will never not be scary, but she gets the stick. Could it be a 10? 9.975

Li (Cal) FX: Starts off with a front 2/1, a bit of a large step out of it. Showing great flexibility in her choreography. Cartwheel to loso, small foot adjustment. Front full to front layout, gorgeous twisting form. Switch ring to switch ring half, small hop to the side on that. 9.875

Isa (Utah) BB: Candle mount, holds it nicely. Back handspring to loso to loso, leg up check, covers it nicely. Full turn. Leap series is nicely done. Back handspring to gainer full, a small hop forward but gets some real amplitude on that. 9.85

Lauzon (Cal) FX: First pass is a front double full to front tuck, beautiful work, really solid connection. Switch half to Popa, underrotated a fair amount. Comes back with a back 3/2 to front full to perhaps the most egregious college saulte I have ever seen.

O’Keefe (Utah) BB: Glimpse of Us never gets old. Side aerial to loso never gets old either, amazing form in the air. Switch leap to split, perhaps a tiny adjustment between the two but covers it well. Full turn. Back hadspring to gainer full, stuck cold. Can this one please be the 10? They do it. 10.0! She officially has the most 10s of any Utah gymnast ever!

Frazier (Cal) FX: Starts off with a double layout, a bit soft in the air but great control on the landing. Turning ring jump is nicely done. Switch ring to switch half to sissone is beautiful, great leg form throughout. Front tuck through to double tuck, another pass showing great control. 9.9

AFTER THREE: California 147.975, Utah 148.875

Another stellar beam rotation from Utah, the second-highest beam rotation score in the nation this year, only behind the Red Rock’s own record. Eaker, Paulson, and O’Keefe are some of the most talented beam workers in the country and even the world, and it showed here. Cal had some rather flat floor routines which will take it out of contention for the team title here.

Rotation 4: Utah Floor, California Beam

DeSouza (Cal) BB: Cat leap to front aerial, very floaty combo. Back handspring to loso, not the best form on the loso, but no wobbles. Beat jump to sheep jump, not at a great angle for position on that sheep jump but no wobbles. Split leap. Full turn. Roundoff to back 3/2, stuck. Very nice work. 9.9

Brenner (Utah) FX: Starts off with a huge double pike, keeps the front foot planted. Comes back with a back 3/2 to front layout, dances right out of it. Switch side to Popa, a bit cheated on rotation. Ends with a double tuck, a tiny bit deep but once again keeps her front foot planted. The start of the victory lap for Utah. 9.925

Williams (Cal) BB: Double wolf turn. Front aerial to split jump, a little unsure but no wobble there. Back handspring to loso, very solid there as well. Switch leap to beat jump, amazing extension in the switch leap. Back handspring to gainer full, stuck. Gonna be a big AA score for her tonight. 9.95

Gilstrap (Utah) FX: Lone beat jump. Front layout to Rudi, very nicely controlled, keeps her front foot planted. Switch leap to switch ring half, probably the best example of that second leap in the NCAA right now. Cartwheel to loso. Finishes up with a front layout to front full, another pass with great control. 9.925

Li (Cal) BB: Trampoline by SHAED as her beam music, I love it. Front aerial with a lean to split jump. Back handspring to loso, tiny lean to the side, just looking a little bit nervy. Full turn. Split leap to sheep jump, another almost undetectable lean. Gainer tuck full, stuck. 9.825

Paulson (Utah) FX: Starting off with a front tuck through to back 5/2, great landing, gets that twisting skill fully around. Having a lot of fun with her choreography. Comes back with a front layout to front full. Switch full attempt to sissone, underrotated. Finishes up with a back 3/2 to front layout, a heavy twisting routine. 9.95

Frazier (Cal) BB: Another great song here, Young and Beautiful. Full turn. Front aerial to back loso, foot was off when she landed but only a small wobble. Big of a large arm wave on the switch ring, nice position in the air. Split to split ring, a lot of risky moves here. Cartwheel to back 3/2, small step forward. Lots of difficulty at the cost of some major wobbles. 9.775

Smith (Utah) FX: Starts off with a front double full, no problems controlling that. Switch ring to switch half, no problems there either. Comes back quickly with a Rudi to loso, very floaty. Finishes with a Rudi to stag jump, small hop in place out of that. 9.925

Lauzon (Cal) BB: Wolf turn full to start off. Back handspring to bhs to loso, no checks there. Switch leap to split jump, nice positions. Roundoff to back 3/2, stuck nicely. 9.95

Rucker (Utah) FX: A 10 here would get a program record for Utah. Half in, half out, keeps the front foot planted nicely. Switch to split full to stag, a bit out of a control but covers with the stag jump. Front layout to front full, a tad bit short with a small slide back. Won’t be a 10 but still a huge score. 9.875

Perea (Cal) BB: Wolf turn double, as nice as you can get for that skill. Front toss to back tuck, nicely done. Switch leap to split to beat jump, nice split positions there. Side somi to back 3/2, large hop forward.

O’Keefe (Utah) FX: Starts off with a double pike, great form in the air, keeps the front foot under control. Second pass is a front layout to front full, once again amazing technique. Switch to Gogean, pulls it around nicely. Finishes up with a back 3/2 to front layout just falls right into that landing amazingly.

Final: California 197.550, Utah 198.550

If nothing else, today Utah proved that you would be dumb to count the Red Rocks out of the national title picture. This comes in as Utah’s third-highest score ever, led by Maile O’Keefe’s amazing all-around comeback.

Event Winners:

Vault: Rucker (Utah) 10.000

Bars: Williams, Li (Cal), Brenner, O’Keefe (Utah) 9.95

Beam: O’Keefe (Utah) 10.000

Floor: Paulson, O’Keefe (Utah) 9.95

All-Around: O’Keefe 39.750

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Live blog by Ian LeWarn

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