Utah's MyKayla Skinner. Photograph: Silvia Vatteroni
Michigan competed at Utah on Saturday, 7 January.
Utah beat Michigan 196.625 to 195.525. Utah was led to victory by freshman and 2016 Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner, who won the all around, vault, uneven bars and floor (tied) titles.
Skinner opened the competition with a strong double-twisting Yurchenko vault, rarely done in NCAA gymnastics, beautifully executed and with only a step on landing (9.900).
She went on to post the highest score of the meet on the uneven bars, another 9.900. She performed a clean routine, which incuded a Shaposhnikova into a half-turn into handstands transition to the low bar, and a stuck full-in dismount.
On beam, Skinner performed a wobble-free set, ended with an almost stuck double tuck dismount, which earned her a 9.850.
Finally, on floor she tied for the title with teammate MaKenna Merrell, executing a beautiful routine. She opened with a double-double tuck, the first ever NCAA gymnast to perform this skill; her second pass was a one-and-a-half-twist indirectly linked to a double twist, high and clean; and she dismounted with a very difficult full-in tuck.
Skinner decided to keep her 2016 elite floor music for her first NCAA routine, which I believe was a very smart choice. Last year Skinner’s floor choreography was somehow under-appreciated, and this year her routine, just spiced up a bit, looks likely to become a big hit.
Impressive for Utah was also MaKenna Merrell, who was second in the all around and on vault (9.850), third on bars (9.850) and tied for first place on floor (9.900).
On vault, Merrell performed a one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko with a step to one side. On bars, she performed an intricate and very well executed routine that included a rarely performed straddled Deltchev. On floor, Merrell performed a very elegant routine, which included a full-in pike, a two-and-a-half twist into punch front and a one-and-a-half twisting front into split jump.
Beam was won by Utah’s Bealy Rowe, who scored an impressive 9.925. Rowe’s routine was quite unique: it included a triple series (BH + BH + LOSO) and her unique move, a free-walkover on two feet, and ended with a stuck one-and-a-half twisting dismount.
Here is a recap of Utah's performances.
Michigan finished one point behind Utah. They had no score over 9.9, but they produced some very solid routines.
They scored two 9.850 on vault with Talia Chiarelli (for a slightly messy one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko) and Emma McLean.
Brianna Brown scored an excellent 9.850 on the uneven bars for a routine that included a Tkatchev, a Pak salto and a double straight dismount.
Michigan also scored three 9.850 on beam with Lauren Marinez, Olivia Karas and Talia Chiarelli, the second best score of the meet tied with MyKayla Skinner.
Finally, on floor Nicole Artz posted the third highest score of the meet, a 9.875. Her routine included a full-in pike, a super high double pike dismount and excellent leaps.
Michigan also saw the debut of former elite gymnast Polina Shchennikova, who unfortunately scored a poor 9.025 on the uneven bars, after falling on the easiest element of her routine, a half turn on the low bar. Her pointed toes, however, are still incredible!
Most videos featuring individual gymnasts can be found on the FloGymnastics website.
More NCAA recaps are coming, check them out!
By Talitha IlacquaAdvertisement