Gymnastics: Utah walks over Cal in second-straight road win

_MG_4554 Emily Juchau

It’s been California dreaming for the No. 5 Utah gymnastics team as the Red Rocks got their second win in two weeks in the Bay Area, beating No. 12 Cal 197.025-196.750.

The Red Rocks, who were dealing with lineup changes due to injury concerns, showed their depth on vault and floor with great showings from all gymnasts.

After a solid performance on beam last week, the apparatus proved to be a problem area for Utah this time around, but the Red Rocks were able to make up for it in other events.

The meet began with the Red Rocks on bars, where everyone earned consistent scores. Samantha Partyka, who was left out of vault and floor due to lower leg issues, started off with a 9.850. After two decent showings by Tiffani Lewis and Sabrina Schwab, Kassandra Lopez earned a 9.875. Breanna Hughes earned the highest score with a 9.900, and Baely Rowe closed out the group with a 9.850.

Following MaKenna Merrell’s 9.825 score on vault, Lopez earned a career-high 9.850 with her distance and solid landing. It was also a big showing from freshman Erika Muhaw, who was handed her first starting spot in a lineup due to Kailah Delaney’s injury and earned 9.800 in her first collegiate showing. Hughes had the highest score again with another 9.900, and Lewis ended the rotation with a 9.825.

With the Red Rocks building their lead on the Bears, the team didn’t have as great of a showing on the floor due to lineup changes. Merrell continued to show her consistency on her routine, earning a 9.775, but she was followed by a 9.600 score from Lewis, who fell short on her first pass. Rowe, Schwab and Maddy Stover shared 9.850 scores. Hughes showed her experience once more with a 9.925.

After being a handed a comfortable lead heading into the final rotation, Utah’s lack of depth began to show its issues on the beam. Partyka kicked things off with a few balance issues, but she recovered and earned a 9.775. Merrell showed well with a 9.800 but was followed with an atypical performance from Hughes, who fell off the beam, resulting in a 9.200. The team eventually recovered with 9.850 from Lopez, a 9.875 from Rowe, and a 9.900 from Stover.

Though it was another easy win for the Red Rocks, Hughes’s fall almost cost the team the lead with Cal performing well on the floor. With the win hanging in the balance, co-head coach Tom Farden had to give credit to Lopez, Rowe and Stover for being solid on the event.

“Those last three beam routines were just clutch,” Farden said. “I have full confidence that this team can finish a meet on the road on the balance beam and they proved it again today.”

Farden also gave credit to Rowe, who he felt was the best performer on the day, especially with her performance on the floor.

“[Rowe] was lights out tonight,” Farden said. “[Her floor routine was] absolutely beautiful.”

With another road win in the books, the Red Rocks hope to continue this momentum and earn their third road win next Saturday when they travel to Michigan.

c.marquez@dailyutahchronicle.com

@chad_marquez