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West Valley City Journal

In-state gymnastics meet to be held at the Maverik Center

Dec 11, 2019 03:23PM ● By Greg James

The University of Utah Red Rocks placed second in the Pac-12 last season and qualified for the NCAA National Championships. (Photo courtesy Utah Athletics)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The Maverik Center in West Valley City will host the inaugural Rio Tinto Best of Utah gymnastics meet Jan 11. Teams from the University of Utah, BYU, Southern Utah University and Utah State are scheduled to compete.

“We are honored to host the Rio Tinto Best of Utah NCAA Gymnastics Meet,” Maverik Center CEO Kevin Bruder said. “We look forward to continuing to host high caliber gymnastics events that elevate the level of competition.”

This will be the second time that the four schools will compete in the same event. The other was in 1993 at the Smith’s Challenge Cup. The event was held at the Huntsman Center on the campus of the University of Utah. The Utes came out on top, Utah State finished second, BYU third and SUU fourth.

BYU, Utah State and SUU compete in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference (MRGC) while Utah competes in the Pac-12. 

The Cougars boast 11 in-state athletes on their team. This season they return all but two gymnasts from a team that advanced to the NCAA regionals for the 10th straight season. They placed third in the MRGC last season behind Boise State and SUU. 

“It is incredible that our state has four outstanding division one programs,” Utah head coach Tom Farden said. “It speaks volumes about the popularity of gymnastics in Utah. This meet will allow each school’s passionate fans to get a chance to see their team in a championship setting. The podium at the Maverik Center is simply one of the best and we are looking forward to this event this upcoming season.”

Farden is entering his fourth years as head coach of the Utes. Last season they finished seventh at the NCAA championships. They return 10 of their 24 gymnasts, including two All-Americans, Missy Reinstadtler (all-around) and Sydney Soloski (floor). The team also includes two USA National team members, Maile O’Keefe and Abby Paulson. 

“We are not just interested in qualifying into the National Championships. We want to get Utah back on top of the podium,” Farden said.

Utah owns 10 national championships, its last title came in 1995 and they finished second in 2015.

SUU head coach Scoot Bauman’s Thunderbirds finished second in the MRGC last season. They beat Utah State all three times they faced each other last season. Karly McClain was named MRGC freshman of the year last season. 

Utah State closed out last season ranked 42nd overall and did not qualify for the National Championships. Leighton Varnandore earned second team MGRC all-around last season.

The Maverik Center hosted the 2019 Pac-12 Women’s Gymnastics Championships in March and is scheduled to be the host venue for the next three years. It seats approximately 9,000 for gymnastics events. Tickets for these events can be purchased by contacting the Maverik Center and the schools.

Utah gymnastics led the NCAA in attendance for women's sports last season. South Carolina basketball was second and LSU gymnastics third. The Utes largest crowd for a meet was in 2015 when they hosted Michigan at the Huntsman Center, 16,019 an NCAA record.