I may have over-hyped this match-up between the University of Utah and the University of Michigan as a result of those two teams being my two favorites.

Both the Wolverines and the Utes were a bit off their games tonight. Utah scored a 196.425 over the 195.425 posted by the Wolverines, both of which are well below both team’s season highs.

Utah managed to hold scores above 49.000 on all four apparatus, while the Wolverines only managed to score over 49.000 on the Vault where they scored 49.175 highlighted by Kylee Botterman’s 9.900.

The first rotation was strong for the Utes. There were six solid Vault scores above a 9.700 (the lowest score, by Salt Lake City native Mary Beth Lofgren) with Stephanie McAllister’s 9.875 capping off the rotation and placing her second on the apparatus. The first rotation was significantly less kind to the Wolverines where some issues plagued the lineup. Trish Wilson, the Michigan anchor on the Uneven Bars took four very uncharacteristic steps backwards after landing her tucked double front dismount while Britnee Martinez, Shelby Geis and Jordan Sexton had some low landings and handstand issues.

In the second rotation, the Uneven Bars continued to cause some problems, most notably to Utah freshman Corrie Lothrop. Lothrop hit a solid routine right up until the dismount. From my vantage point just askew from the Uneven Bars in the Huntsman Center, it appeared that Lothrop released the tap for her dismount a bit too early and “pinged” off the bars, resulting in landing her dismount on her hands and knees and garnering the tossed-out score of 9.175. Bars was kinder to the rest of the Red Rocks line-up, especially to senior Gael Mackie, who hit a b-e-a-utiful routine to earn a 9.925 and the win on the Uneven Bars. Mackie’s countrywoman Nansy Damianova also fared well on the Uneven Bars scoring a career high 9.825. The Red Rocks tallied a 49.050 in their campaign on the Bars.

While Utah attempted to tame the Uneven Bars, Michigan was showing the Vault who, exactly, was boss. All tallied scores were above a 9.800, capped off by Kylee Botterman’s 9.900, which she used to win the Vault title tonight in Salt Lake City. Michigan counted a 49.175 on the Vault.

The third rotation showed signs of rebound for both teams, though the rotation was not without issue. Michigan’s first gymnast on the Floor Exercise, Joanna Sampson, had a miscue on her second tumbling pass of round-off + back handspring + layout 1.5 twist + punch front tuck. She set too high in her layout 1.5 twist and landed too far forward, punching her front tuck downward into the ground instead of upward. Sampson ended up sitting the pass down losing valuable bonus points and counting a fall, resulting in a 8.850. The remaining Wolverines scored well, though Natalie Beilstein could have scored better had she not bounded out of bounds on her final tumbling pass. Michigan’s highest Floor Exercise score came in a pair of 9.825’s from Kylee Botterman and Jordan Sexton.

On the Balance Beam, Utah launched their rebound, though for the third meet in a row, Gael Mackie fell off the beam on her tumble series, earning only a 9.150. The rest of the line-up scored quite well. Lead-off gymnast Fumina Kobayashi from Salt Lake City posted a 9.850 to start the Red Rocks. She was followed by Mackie, who in turn was followed by Stephanie McAllister and a 9.800. Corrie Lothrop also scored a 9.800 in her rebound from a less-than-satisfactory Uneven Bars set. Cortni Beers, a junior from Tulsa, Oklahoma tied Kobayashi’s 9.850 and hometown girl Mary Beth Lofgren scored 9.750. The Red Rocks scrounged up a 49.050 on the Beam.

The final rotation was good to Utah, but less so to Michigan. Two of the Wolverines’ strongest beam workers, Jordan Sexton and Sarah Curtis only managed to score 9.650 and 9.525, respectively, after shaky routines. The remaining Wolverines scored decently, with a pair of 9.775’s from Joanna Sampson and Shelby Gies and a pair of 9.850’s from Kylee Botterman and anchor Katie Zurales. A shaky stint on the Beam for Michigan resulted in a 48.900.

For Utah, ending on the Floor Exercise was good. Jacquelyn Johnson scored a 9.750 in just her second routine back after a concussion sustained a few weeks ago in practice. Mary Beth Lofgren and Corrie Lothrop added a pair of 9.800’s to the Red Rocks’ tally. Lia Del Priore upped the ante with a 9.850 and Nansy Damianova pushed things forward with a strong 9.875. Stephanie McAllister sealed the deal with a  9.900, winning the apparatus and leaving Utah with a 49.225 score.

Overall, it was a better meet for Utah than it was for Michigan, but both teams were able to fight back from early mistakes to finish as best they could given their circumstances.

I am incredibly grateful that I was able to watch my two favorite teams go head-to-head in my new home. The Red Rocks up their record against Michigan to 22-11, with a 10-2 record in the Huntsman Center.

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1. 9.900 BOTTERMAN, Kylee (Michigan)
2. 9.875 MCALLISTER, Stephanie (Utah)
3. 9.850 DAMIANOVA, Nansy (Utah)
3. 9.850 SHANLEY, Victoria (Utah)


1. 9.925 MACKIE, Gael (Utah)
2. 9.850 BOTTERMAN, Kylee (Michigan)
3. 9.825 DAMIANOVA, Nansy (Utah)


1. 9.850 BEERS, Cortni (Utah)
1. 9.850 BOTTERMAN, Kylee (Michigan)
1. 9.850 KOBAYASHI, Fumina (Utah)
1. 9.850 ZURALES, Katie (Michigan)


1. 9.900 MCALLISTER, Stephanie (Utah)
2. 9.875 DAMIANOVA, Nansy (Utah)
3. 9.850 DEL PRIORE, Lia (Utah)


1. 39.425 BOTTERMAN, Kylee (Michigan)
2. 39.300 MCALLISTER, Stephanie (Utah)
3. 38.850 CURTIS, Sarah (Michigan)
4. 38.575 LOTHROP, Corrie (Utah)