Iker, O’Keefe scored the perfect 10 to send Red Rocks to the 46th consecutive nationals

Red Rocks № 4 celebrates after winning the Seattle Regional Final on Saturday, April 2, 2022 (Utah Athletics)

Estimated reading time: 5-6 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY – A few seconds before she dismounted from the beam, Alexia Birch could not stand the balance check.

The superstar broke away and scored 9,175 points, leaving the No. 4 Red Rocks with little room for error in the final rotation of Seattle’s regional finals at Alaska Airlines Arena on Saturday night. Two nights ago, in the regional semifinals, Burch was a key factor in the Red Rocks reaching the final – mistakes happen.

Another mistake, and the Red Rocks will miss their 46th consecutive performance in the national championship – a national record.

Elder Crystal Isa was next and took a few deep breaths before starting her routine; she was responsible for setting the tone for the team. A few minutes later, Aiza landed in an almost flawless routine, and the judges gave her 9,975 – talk of speeding up.

The red rocks were not yet finished.

It would seem that without a load on the shoulders freshman Kara Iker performed a flawless routine and recorded the first 10.0 in her short career. But even with a perfect score, Mail O’Keefe had to achieve, and the Red Rocks finished third. It all depended on O’Keefe.

“I just had to follow a normal routine – obviously easier said than done under pressure – but I knew that if I just trusted myself and used my breath, I would be fine,” O’Keefe said.

And the “normal routine” for O’Keefe was usually perfection. The Las Vegas junior did just that and recorded her third 10.0 mark on the beam of the season when the Red Rocks bypassed Alabama’s No. 5 and won the regional final with a post-season record of 198,200. Red Rocks join Alabama (198,175) from regional Seattle to move to national.

“I was shivering in my boots,” O’Keefe said of the moment before the performance. “I trust myself, I’m just obviously nervous and I think it’s okay because I feel like it means I don’t care.”

Regional rivals number 12 from Michigan (197,650) and the team “Cinderella” from Stanford (49,225), who had to perform in three meetings in four days, withstood a decent fight and kept the regional final until the end.

“It just speaks to where our sport is,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “Now the boundaries are so tight that only to make an elite eight.

“You have to be very close to flawless to get to this last day. And so, I mean, you know, Alabama was also incredible. So it was another vodka and we just came here and then in we had another one just to get here, and so, I mean, you can see all over the country how hard it is. ”

The Red Rocks join Alabama, Florida (198,775), Oklahoma (198,250), Michigan (197,800), Auburn (197,775), Minnesota (197,725) and Missouri (197,425) on the national team on April 14-16 in Texas, Texas.

Two nights after Red Rocks needed a good game to reach the final, on Saturday the team’s energy level was different – in a positive sense. The Red Rocks started on the floor again and started with a bang when Abby Paulson, who was re-included after a recent back injury that prevented her from reaching the semi-finals, took the lead with a score of 9.90.

It was the only event for Paulson, but it was exactly what the team needed to start the meeting. Jaylin Gilstrap and Jadin Racker gave their own points of 9.90 before Grace McCallum scored 9.950 and O’Keefe scored another 9.90. Super senior Sydney Soloski, who made an unusual move outside on Thursday in her first pass, scored 9,950 in the anchor position.

That was good enough for the Red Rocks to beat Alabama by 0.100 at the start of the first rotation.

The Red Rocks scored 49,400 points on the vault, including 9.90 points from Rocker and Birch to 9,925 points on McCallum and 49,475 points on the bars. McCallum scored 9,950 points on the bars on the team – this is a great performance of her rebound from her on Thursday.

Alabama was a worthy enemy and came out ahead after the third rotation with an advantage of 148,525-148,475 over the Red Rocks. The Crimson Tide smelled the appearance of the citizens entering the final rotation.

But then again, the Red Rocks team gave the beam when it was most important. And the team continues its 46-time streak of performances in the national championship another season.

“The size is 46 in a row, we just take it one season at a time, one pre-season and one Christmas vacation,” Farden said. “I know what banners mean, but I try not to get carried away and just train each team according to their needs. And this team had different needs last year, so it’s always an experiment. “

“It’s not when you want to peak, we want to peak in two weeks,” O’Keefe said. “So obviously we still have room for improvement. So I feel it’s good.”

The Red Rocks will have their job cut out for them, but they have two weeks to prepare for another national team appearance.

Team results

№ 4 Utah

  • Floor (49,600)
  • Repository (99,000, 49,400)
  • Bars (148,475, 49,475)
  • Ray (198,200, 49,725)

No. 5 Alabama

  • Vault (49,500)
  • Bars (98,900, 49,400)
  • Ray (148,525, 49,625)
  • Floor (198,175, 49,600)

№ 12 Michigan

  • Bars (49,275)
  • Ray (98,700, 49,425)
  • Floor (148,250, 49,550)
  • Repository (197,650, 49,400)

Stanford

  • Beam (49,275)
  • Floor (98,725, 49,450)
  • Repository (148,025, 49,300)
  • Bars (197,250, 49,225)

Individual Red Rock results

1st rotation: floor (49,600)

  • Abby Paulson: 9,900
  • Jayline Gilstrap: 9,900
  • Jadin Racker: 9,900
  • Grace McCallum: 9,950
  • Mail O’Keefe: 9,900
  • Sydney Soloski: 9,950

2nd rotation: storage (49,400)

  • Mail O’Keefe: 9,875
  • Lucy Stanhope: 9,800
  • Jadin Racker: 9,900
  • Alexia Burch: 9,900
  • Grace McCallum: 9,925
  • Cammy Hall: 9,800

3rd rotation: bars (49,475)

  • Amelie Morgan: 9,875
  • Grace McCallum: 9,950
  • Alexia Burch: 9,900
  • Sage Thompson: 9850
  • Mail O’Keefe: 9,725
  • Crystal Isa: 9900

4th rotation: beam (49,725)

  • Amelie Morgan: 9,900
  • Adriana Randall: 9,850
  • Alexia Burch: 9,175
  • Crystal Isa: 9975
  • Kara Iker: 10.0
  • Mail O’Keefe: 10.0

Josh is the athletic director of KSL.com and the author of victories in athletics at the University of Utah – primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also among the Associated Press’s top 25 voters for the football college.

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