Red Rocks move on to the Super Six

The U gymnastics team qualified for its fifth straight NCAA Super Six team championship Thursday with a score of 196.925. The score was the third best team score in the evening session and on the day. UCLA and Alabama were the only teams to beat the Utes, with scores of 197.675 and 197.325 respectively.

Freshman Nicolle Ford and Senior Melissa Vituj were the Utes most solid gymnasts on the night, placing 8th and 7th respectively with scores of 39.525 and 39.550.

Junior Annabeth Eberle was also clutch, hitting her biggest routine of the night when the Utes needed it most, and sending the team to the sidelines with confidence that they would advance. Her score of 9.950 on vault was good enough to tie for first in the event.

After a tone setting afternoon session that saw Florida and Stanford tie for first with scores of 196.850, and Georgia pick up the final spot with a 196.775, the Utes knew they would need to post a better score than Georgia if they were going to qualify out of the more difficult evening session.

The Utes put up their best event score of the night on their first event, the uneven bars. Kristen Riffanacht fell and managed to score only a 9.075, but the rest of the Red Rocks were solid, especially Ford, whose routine was nearly perfect en route to a score of 9.925. Vituj also hit a clutch 9.900 in the last spot to give the Utes a 49.350 on the event.

The Utes moved from bars to beam and found themselves unscathed in third place when everyone had finished their routines. Ford turned in the best routine once again with a 9.875, and Vituj and Riffanacht were right on her heels with twin scores of 9.850.

It wasn’t the Utes’ best beam set of the year, but they got their worst event out of the way without counting a fall, and that turned out to be a key factor in their final score.

The Utes had a bye before moving to their floor rotation, and that rest didn’t do them any good. After Riffanacht turned in a so-so 9.725 routine to lead things off, Gritt Hofmann stumbled badly and managed only a 9.650, forcing the Utes to count Riffanacht’s 9.725.

Eberle and Ford came through with solid 9.850, 9.875 routines respectively, but it was Vituj who came through in big fashion for the Utes, closing out the rotation with 9.950, giving the Utes a 49.200. Her routine not only saved the Utes from a dismal event score, it also gave them momentum going into their final event, which they sorely needed.

This momentum translated into the team’s second best event score of the night (49.275) and what turned out to be just enough points to move on.

Riffanacht lead off with 9.800, and Lim followed with a 9.825. Leclerc couldn’t help the team’s cause on her vault, but Ford continued her big night with a team score saving 9.850. The pressure was on for the two co captains, Vituj and Eberle, and they responded with a 9.850, and a clutch 9.950 respectively.

Although it was not a great team score for the Utes, they fared well considering they were without their third best overall gymnast, second best vaulter, and best bars gymnast in freshman Rachel Tidd.

Tidd’s replacements combined for an all-around score of 38.575, but only one really faltered.

U head coach Greg Marsden became the only coach in college gymnastics to eclipse the 800 win mark.

[email protected]