Junior gets injured while warming up for a floor exercise; utes are doomed by problems on the beam
Utah’s gymnastics team lost more than one game on Saturday, it also lost one of its crucial gymnasts.
Jillian Hoffman, who has been such a spark for the Utes this season in the starring role on vault and floor, is out for the season after suffering an injury in the 197.525-197.275 loss to 11th Cal in Berkeley, Utah. California.
Utah coach Tom Farden said the initial diagnosis was a torn Achilles tendon. The injury is devastating for Hoffman after being limited in his freshman year due to injury and missing the 2021 season with a shoulder injury.
This season finally felt like her year as she was one of the team’s most inspirational stories, consistently gaining 9.8 seconds or more in the lead role.
Hoffman scored 9.9 on vault and then suffered an injury during floor warmups.
Farden was clearly emotional after the encounter when asked about Hoffman.
To jump: Jaedyn Rucker (Utah) 9.975
Uneven bars: Andi Li (California) 9.95
Balance beam: Maile O’Keefe (Utah) 9.925
Stage: Sydney Soloksi (Utah) 9.975
All around: Andi Li (California) 39.65
“I’m beside myself, to be honest with you,” he said. “You feel drained for an athlete, especially this one because I’ve seen her perseverance and I admire her.”
Interestingly, the Utes actually had their best event of the night on the ground, where they scored a 49.525, paced by a 9.975 from Sydney Soloski and a 9.9 from Jaedyn Rucker and Abby Paulson.
That effort, combined with just 49.25 from the Bears on beam, gave the Utes a 148.2-148.0 lead going into the final rotation.
The Utes couldn’t hold him off, however, after problems on beam. Utah only scored a 49.075 after Abby Paulson scored 9.575 and Cristal Isa made a rare mistake scoring 9.075.
The Bears finished with a 49.475, including four scores of 9.9 or better on the floor.
Milan Clausi, the daughter of Utah legend Missy Marlowe, sat out the second straight competition because she was not cleared due to illness.
Turns out the Bears didn’t need her, beating the Utes for the first time at Berkeley since 2018.
The loss is disappointing as it ends any hope the Utes could go undefeated, but the end result only underscored a troubling realization, that the Utes aren’t as invincible as a team, even on beam, as they had hoped. to be.
The Utes also had to score a fall on beam against UCLA and struggled against Arizona State, when they scored a 49.025. Afterwards, Farden said he thought the errors were an anomaly and he wasn’t going to make much of it.
But he admitted on Saturday that there was more of a problem than he initially thought.
“I’m not here to make excuses, but we didn’t do our job in the last round,” he said. “There’s a human element to sport that binds teammates, coaches and the community and the team was upset, really upset and we had to make adjustments on the fly.”
So what does this loss mean for the Utes going forward? Utah hopes to return Kara Eaker to the roster as soon as she continues to recover from a season opener ankle injury. His comeback will help the Utes with his high scoring ability, but Hoffman has also given the Utes a noticeable spark, an intangible that may be difficult to replace.
The balance beam issues also need to be resolved, which is of even greater concern. The Utes didn’t use rookie Grace McCallum on balance beam Saturday after she fell a week ago against UCLA. Paulson has struggled this year, scoring 9.425 in the season opener and 9.675 against Arizona State, but she’s also been brilliant too, earning 9.9 against Oklahoma UCLA and 9.95 against Stanford, so making her more consistent will be a priority.
Farden said the Utes will continue to work on rosters. Right now, it looks like the Utes might be holding a timeout to catch their breath and regroup as well.
Utah is scheduled to host Oregon State at 6 p.m. Friday at the Huntsman Center.