Gymnastics: Red Rocks Looking to Improve on Floor, sans Kari Lee

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Being the No. 7 team in the country and having a perfect 3-0 record to start the season is much better than where many of the young Utah gymnasts thought they would be. However, the Red Rocks’ history of tradition makes the team feel they could be performing at a more consistent level.

Utah barely escaped Oregon State last weekend. The Beavers seemed to have the road win secured but made a handful of mistakes, giving the W to the Red Rocks. One obstacle the team is hoping to overcome to give them more consistency in scoring is how they perform on floor.

Co-head coach Megan Marsden is going to be giving extra attention to floor during the team’s longer break. Although she would like to see substantial improvement in this area, she isn’t too shocked about the amount of time it’s taking to get the newer gymnasts up to speed, since the bar is set high by last year’s seniors Georgia Dabritz, Corrie Lothrop, Becky Tutka and Tory Wilson.

“I continue to be concerned about the floor, but I’m not surprised,” Marsden said. “Three meets in, and that’s the event that we need to deal with in terms of the expectations that are handed to us.”

Marsden knew losing that many top gymnasts would cause difficulties, especially for the freshmen and sophomores who are attempting to fill their spots in the lineup in their own way.

“We lost four incredible seniors that were all in our floor line-up,” Marsden said. “Power tumblers, and the people we’ve had come are different athletes. We’re still trying to find our identity in that event, and still be a very competitive team.”

The search for that identity continues for Utah’s coaching staff. They changed the floor lineup earlier this week in hopes of finding a winning solution.

“We are trying to figure out what lineup and tumbling passes work best for our team,” Marsden said. “We have plenty of time to work through that, but we are also having to deal now instead of preseason. Floor exercise is an event that we at Utah gymnastics choose not to put a lot of hard landing in training — we usually wait for the season for that, and you see that some things still need to be worked on.”

Utah also has to deal with losing one of its more consistent performers on the floor. Sophomore Kari Lee is now out for the rest of the season after tearing her achilles in Tuesday’s training.

Before the injury, Lee mentioned that practice makes perfect and that the team will continue to get better with more training throughout each week.

“We’ve been working really hard in practice on how to close out meets on floor,” Lee said. “We need to work on being more consistent in the gym and just work on what we’ve been doing well. Once we put out what we’ve been working on, it will show a lot better.”

With a few more days off before their meet against Arizona on Monday, the Red Rocks will keep on preparing to have a cleaner, better performance against the Wildcats.

c.marquez@dailyutahchronicle.com

@chad_marquez

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