Red Rocks Predicted To Capture Pac-12 Championship

Despite being one of the premier programs in the country for the past decade, the last time Utah was chosen as the Pac-12 preseason favorite was in 2016. That's no longer the case after the Red Rocks were chosen as favorites for the 2021 season
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Utah gymnastics head coach Tom Farden came out of the meet with Oklahoma both disappointed and excited. 

On one end, the disappointment stems from the Red Rocks having their year-long winning streak snapped after their 197.025-196.550 loss to the Sooners. Although Farden admits Oklahoma won the match, there were parts he was disappointed in when it came to his own team.

“I don’t think they were aggressive or determined enough as a group,” he said. “Individuals were and we had some brilliant individual performances, but I don’t feel that they collectively came together as a team and came to play. I know when this team is coming to play and they did not. We are disappointed. We saw where we stack up and we have work to do.”

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On the other end, there is reason for optimism as despite Utah's consistency issues, the Red Rocks found themselves in conjunction with the Sooner every step of the way. The program knows what it now takes to compete with the best in the nation, and they know they're capable of doing so.

“There were some instances today where we weren’t very comfortable,” Farden said. “We had to give that opportunity to our athletes so that the next time we go out there, we’ve learned from this and we are better.”

Before the Red Rocks can get another crack at Oklahoma, they must first navigate the difficult Pac-12 schedule. Utah will have two meets on ESPN Networks, with only Arizona State (t-No. 14) and Oregon State (No. 34) currently ranked within the top-35 in the nation — and both of those meets will come on the road.

UTAH SCHEDULE
Regular Season
*Saturday, Jan. 23 vs. Arizona / 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network
*Saturday, Jan. 30 vs. Washington / 8 p.m., ESPNU
*Saturday, Feb. 6 @ Arizona State / 1 or 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
*Monday, Feb. 15 @ Stanford / 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network
*Friday, Feb. 19 vs. UCLA / 7 p.m., ESPNU
*Friday, Feb. 26 vs. Cal / 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
*Friday, March 5 @ Oregon State / TBD
*Friday, March 12 vs. Utah State (Senior Night) / 7 p.m.

Postseason
*Saturday, March 20 @ Pac-12 Championships (West Valley City, UT) / TBD, Pac-12 Network
*Thursday, April 1 @ NCAA Regional 1st Round / TBD
*Friday, April 2 @ NCAA 2nd Round Semifinal / TBD
*Saturday, April 3 @ NCAA Regional Finals / TBD
*Friday, April 16 @ NCAA Championships Semifinal (Fort Worth, TX) / TBD
*Saturday April 17 @ NCAA Championships (Fort Worth, TX) / TBD

Despite the difficulty of the conference schedule, Utah was chosen to finish first in the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll, released by the conference on Wednesday afternoon.

2021 Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Utah (6) – 48 points
2. UCLA (1) – 40 points
3. California (1) – 39 points
4. Oregon State - 32 points
5. Washington – 21 points
6. Arizona State – 20 points
7. Arizona – 17 points
8. Stanford – 7 points

The Red Rocks are coming off their first regular season championship last season, but have won the conference tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Utah is set to begin the conference season on Saturday when it hosts Arizona at 1 p.m. MT.

“At some point, if we talk about staying at the top of the conference and making (national) finals, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Farden said.

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