Time to prove it: Red Rocks look to big four to guide them through the postseason

The postseason is finally here and the U gymnastics team is ready to take its first step toward the National Championship this weekend. The North Central Regionals begin Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

The six teams that will be competing in this regional tournament will be No. 1 Utah, No. 13 BYU, No. 20 Southern Utah, No. 22 Minnesota, No. 12 Oregon State and Iowa. Only the top two teams will earn bids to go the National Championships.

The Red Rocks have qualified for all 23 NCAA title tourneys and look to be a near lock to make it number 24. This is the first time since 1993 that the Utes will enter the postseason ranked No. 1 and the Red Rocks have already beaten four of the other six teams in the regional tournament.

” I do feel like we’re at a good place,” U coach Greg Marsden said. “Everyone is training well, we’re pretty healthy for this time of the year and I think that through our season we’ve gained a lot of confidence.”

The Utes seem to be peaking at the most important juncture in the season. In the Utes’ last five meets, they have scored more than 197 in each meet. In the last two weeks, the team has put up outstanding scores. Against Arizona State, the team put up a season-high 197.85 and they closed the season with a 197.450 against BYU.

Four gymnasts, Ashley Postell, Annabeth Eberle, Nicolle Ford and Rachel Tidd, have mainly driven the high team scores.

Postell finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the all-around and is the top-ranked gymnast in the nation on the beam. Her freshman season earned her the award of North Central Gymnast of the Year.

Eberle was the North Central Gymnast of the Year last season, this year finishing the regular season ranked No. 7 in the all-around.

Although Tidd was plagued with injuries all season long, she still managed to finish the season ranked No. 3 on the bars and No. 19 in the all-around. Last season she had mononucleosis, which prevented her from competing in the National Championships, but she is healthy this year and will compete Saturday.

Ford has been a solid mainstay for the Utes all season. She has been doing better and better on the vault, which is considered to be her weakest event. She finished just behind Postell at No. 6 in the all-around.

The four superstars certainly make the Utes a favorite to not only win the regionals, but to possibly win their first national title since 1995.

The individual talent will certainly give the Utes the edge; however, playing at home will give the Utes an additional benefit.

“It’s a big advantage for us to be hosting our regional meet,” Marsden said. “We don’t have to travel, our athletes can sleep in their own beds and maintain a normal sleep schedule and it’s always to our advantage to be in front of our fans.”

Even with the advantage the Utes have going into regionals, Marsden wants his team to be careful.

“We need to stay focused and take nothing for granted,” Marsden said. “There are other teams that are talented enough to upset us if we don’t. Now is not the time to assume anything.”

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