Senior Hughes continues to leave a legacy behind for Utah Gymnastics

IMG_7582 Emily Juchau

Senior Breanna Hughes entertained well over 15,000 Utah gymnastics fans on Saturday, March 12, with a stellar performance on floor, putting a well-deserved exclamation mark on her career and leading the Red Rocks (9-1, 5-1 in Pac-12) to a 197.675-197.125 victory over No. 9 Georgia.

Hughes is an excellent student-athlete receiving two first team Pac-12 All-Academic awards, currently in her third year as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and is a member of the 2016 Utah gymnastics council. Hughes is also working on achieving a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies.

Her perseverance can be attributed to her gymnastics upbringing in Champlin, Minn. Hughes’ parents strongly influenced her gymnastics career — her father was a gymnast at the University of Minnesota, and her mother was a competitive figure skater. Hughes’ father, Mike Hunger, originally spent time in the Beehive state as an assistant coach at Utah State.

Hughes is nationally ranked at No. 17 for the all-around (3rd in Pac-12), 9th on vault (2nd in Pac-12), 18th on bars (tied for 3rd in Pac-12) and 15th on floor (4th in Pac-12). Twice this season, Hughes has been recognized as the Pac-12 Specialist of the Week, but the decorated senior’s accomplishments don’t stop there.

On Senior Night, Hughes delivered a signature performance with a perfect ending in her final night at the Huntsman Center. Hughes competed in all four events, totaling an all-around score of 39.650, tying her career-high. On beam, Hughes scored a team-high 9.875. Following the beam, Hughes scored a 9.925 on the bars, second-highest for the Red Rocks on the night. The beam would prove to be the toughest on the night for Hughes, registering her lowest score of 9.850.

Then, in memorable fashion, Hughes scored a perfect 10 on the floor exercise, the last rotation of the meet. Utah fans rose in unity to cheer on Hughes after her final performance in front of the Red Rocks crowd.

“I tried to not let anything that happened before affect me — I just tried to do what I do everyday in the gym and all of the mental choreography I practice,” Hughes said. “I just trust my training, and I know that my teammates are behind me 100 percent.”

Hughes will lead the No. 5 Utah gymnastics team next Saturday in Seattle, Wash., when the Red Rocks attempt to win their third consecutive Pac-12 Championship. Big things have happened for Hughes, but with the Pac-12 and NCAA Championships coming up, she still has the opportunity to add to her already impressive legacy at Utah.

“[Hughes’ floor exercise] was the cherry on top — a perfect 10 is very rare,” said co-head coach Tom Farden. “Breanna is a Midwest gal, and she’s a Minnesota girl, those Minnesota girls will outwork you … now that she is healthy, hungry and happy she’s been very dependable for the team.”

a.shrikian@dailyutahchronicle.com

@ArmenMShrikian