Maile O’Keefe might be the GOAT for Utah gymnastics

Utah’s Maile O’Keefe competes in the floor exercise during the semifinals of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Utah’s Maile O’Keefe competes in the floor exercise during the semifinals of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. | Tony Gutierrez, AP

FORT WORTH, Texas — Maile O’Keefe is doing things few Utah gymnasts have ever done.


During the 2023 regular season, O’Keefe became the best balance beam competitor in Utah history, surpassing Ute legend Theresa Kulikowski for the most perfect 10s in a career (O’Keefe set the record for the most perfect 10s in a single season as junior, a record she has since broken as a senior).

Thursday night at Dickies Arena in the semifinals of the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, O’Keefe added to her accolades. In a significant way.

With her ninth perfect 10 of the season — a perfect beam routine that clinched a berth for Utah in the national championship meet — O’Keefe became an individual NCAA champion again.

She won both the all-around competition and the beam title Thursday, adding those championships to uneven bars and floor exercise titles she won in 2021.

2023 NCAA individual champions

All-around — Maile O’Keefe (Utah); 39.7625

Balance beam — Maile O’Keefe (Utah); 10.000

Floor exercise — Jordan Chiles (UCLA); 9.9875

Uneven bars — Jordan Chiles (UCLA); 10.000

Vault — Olivia Trautman (Oklahoma); 9.9500

She is now one of only two gymnasts in Utah history to win at least four individual NCAA national championships, alongside Ute legend Missy Marlowe.

Moreover, O’Keefe became the first Red Rock to win an all-around championship since Kulikowski did so in 1999, becoming the fifth all-around champion in Utah history in the process.

O’Keefe and Marlowe are now the only Utah gymnasts ever with NCAA titles in the all-around and on bars, beam and floor.

Combined together, the beam record and the NCAA titles, O’Keefe has a real argument to holding the title of ‘Greatest of All Time’ at Utah. At the very least, she has a resume that makes her a truly legendary Red Rock.

It is something she didn’t see coming. At least the all-around NCAA title.

“I honestly thought it was going to be impossible to win,” O’Keefe said, before referencing her vault, which has a start value of 9.95.

“I started at a disadvantage,” she said. “I couldn’t get a perfect 40. All I could do was go out and do my best and that is what I did. Amazingly unexpected result.”

Her perfect beam routine came amid a host of distractions, as UCLA’s Jordan Chiles recorded a perfect 10 on bars during O’Keefe’s routine — raucous cheers followed — and Utah and UCLA were battling for a berth in the national championship meet, meaning every scrap of points mattered.


“While I was on the beam I could hear the commotion,” O’Keefe said. “I figured something amazing had happened. But it has happened before. With the same teams. You just have to stay focused.”

O’Keefe is no stranger to winning. She won a national championship prior to her time at Utah and while a Red Rock she has accumulated plenty of Pac-12 accolades — including Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year in 2021 — and now four NCAA titles.

At this point, all O’Keefe wants is a team national championship, though she didn’t leave a potential vault title off the table for next year.

“A (team title) will probably be the most fulfilling NCAA championship,” she said. “A title with my teammates. I have done a lot of things by myself and none of it has been as fulfilling as it was to even win a Pac-12 title with my team. Hopefully we make that an NCAA title too.

“In terms of vault, I’ll probably have to get into the gym and work on a (Yurchenko 1.5) and try to dial that down by the time NCAA’s come next year. We will see if that really happens.”

Win a team national title at Utah and O’Keefe will surely have to be considered the greatest Utah gymnast ever. That is if she isn’t already.