By Anna Rose Johnson

We recently chatted with the magnificent MaKenna Merrell-Giles, a Utah senior known for her dynamic floor routines and awesome all-around abilities. In this fun Q&A, Merrell-Giles shares her favorite things about Utah along with her favorite color, book, movie, and more!

Inside Gymnastics: What do you love most about competing for Utah?
MaKenna Merrell-Giles: The thing I love most about competing for Utah is the amazing fan base we have. There is no greater feeling then hitting a routine and having 15,000+ fans cheer for you. I also love the endless support we get here [from] our teammates, coaches, other staff members, and the academic department.

Inside: What is your favorite color?
MaKenna: My favorite color has always been PINK, specifically blush pink! I’ve loved pink for as long as I can remember. As a little kid I would wear almost exclusively pink and hated anything blue. I think I chose the right school, because in my mind, red is just a different version of pink!

Inside: What is your favorite book?
MaKenna: I’m a HUGE Harry Potter nerd! I’ve read the whole series too many times to count. My favorite books of the series are the fourth (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and the seventh (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

Inside: What is your favorite movie?
MaKenna: My favorite movie is The Sandlot! I love baseball and I love that it is a feel-good movie that has a happy ending

Inside: What is your favorite place to travel?
MaKenna: My family owns a 6,000-acre cattle ranch in central Utah. It is my favorite place in the whole world. There is no cell phone service there, so I feel like I can step away from the world and enjoy time outside with my family.

Inside: What activities (outside the gym) do you enjoy?
MaKenna: I love to do crafts, and I love to sew! I love making quilts and hair bows for my niece. Some of my favorite crafts to make are decorations for my house!

Inside: What is your favorite food?
MaKenna: My favorite food is steak from my family’s cattle ranch! I love it because it is grass-fed beef that is a great post-practice meal

Inside: What music do you love listening to?
MaKenna: I’m not a huge music listener. But, I love jamming out with my teammates before meets or on the bus to the arena. They are great at picking “hype” songs to get us ready to compete.

Inside: Who are your gymnastics role models?
MaKenna: I would say my older sister Mickell. She was a gymnast at BYU and was one of the hardest-working gymnasts I’ve ever met. She helped me [during] my freshman year [to] adjust to being a college athlete and is always there to give me advice.

Inside: What is your favorite apparatus?
MaKenna: It’s hard to just pick one, but for competing, it is floor in the Huntsman Center; it gives you such an adrenaline rush, making you feel like you’re on top of the world. For competing at an away meet, I like bars. I really like starting on bars because I feel like it helps me get my nerves out and sets me and the rest of the team up for a good meet. During practice, I love training beam. I love to try and see how close I can get to hitting a perfect routine.

Photo courtesy of Utah Sports Communications

Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: