SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah gymnast MaKenna Merrell was a strong performer for the Utes last year as a sophomore, but she’s made a big jump as a sophomore.
She competes in the all-around, and she has two event wins this season.
“Most people would think it would make you more nervous, but it’s really exciting,” said Merrell. “I’m really grateful that they trust me that much to put me in as many lineups as I am able to contribute on. It’s nice to have their trust in me to know that I can contribute to our team score.”
Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden felt Merrel's summer with hard work, training and focus paid off.
“She has really come into her own,” Marsden said. “No, she is significant in each event and has upgrades in all events. I’m proud of her."
Merrell is from Pleasant Grove, so she hasn’t always dreamed of becoming a Ute. Like her family, she was a BYU fan.
“When I was little I actually wanted to go to BYU,” said Merrell. “I actually grew up around there and my sister went to BYU, so I always wanted to go to BYU.”
But she changed her mind after a visit to the University of Utah.
“I came on an unofficial visit and I just fell in love with the campus and the coaches,” said Merrell. “The program here is amazing.”
Her family is now also making the adjustment from blue to Red.
“My how family wears red with a big U on it,” said Merrell. “I love it. It’s just gymnastics. It’s very clear that they’re just Utah gymnastics fans.”
The 4th ranked Utes will host 15th ranked California on Saturday.