By Larissa Giuliano
When Utah moved to the Pac-12 conference last year, it greatly affected the schedules of most sports, but not gymnastics.
The Utah gymnastics team has always been one of the best. They have won 10 national championships and qualified every single year.
Formerly being part of the Mountain West Conference, most of Utah’s athletic teams played other teams in that conference, which isn’t as competitive as the new conference. The gymnastics team, however, was not in a conference prior to the move. As one of the most dominant gymnastics teams in the country, it already competed against most of the teams in the Pac-10, as well as top-ranked teams all over the country.
Their schedule from last year to this year has barely changed at all. The main difference will be the addition of the Pac-12 championship. When they weren’t in a conference, the Utes had no opportunity to win a championship. Now, they will have the chance to compete for a conference title.
Only eight schools in the Pac-12 have gymnastics teams. Out of the seven other teams, Utah faced five of them last year. This year, Utah will start the season against UCLA, the same team that has been their first opponent all but one season in the past nine years. This meet is a significant test since UCLA won the 2010 nationals and was second last season.
While the move to the Pac-12 doesn’t impact Utah’s gymnastics schedule too much, it will actually make future schedules easier. Before, Utah could choose its schedule and it chose to go up against the best teams in the country. Now, its schedule will already be determined based on the conference rules.
While the more popular sports like football and basketball get most of the hype surrounding Utah’s conference change, we shouldn’t forget that the gymnastics team has been competing with and beating schools in the Pac-12 all along. Gymnasts deserve as much recognition as these other athletes because of their outstanding results.
The gymnastics meets draw large crowds, as Utah frequently has the highest average attendance in the nation. Still, the attendance is only about one-third the attendance of football games.
Utah’s first home meet begins at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. So come and support the team that is always one of the nation’s best!
By Larissa Giuliano