In by a hair

By and

CORVALLIS, Ore.-The U gymnastics team narrowly avoided missing the Super Six at the NCAA Championships for the first time in seven years on Thursday afternoon, eking out a third-place finish after sitting fifth through three of the six rotations.

“I’m too old for this,” said Ute head coach Greg Marsden. “This is exciting as it gets.”

The Utes finished with a score of 196.175, good enough to beat fourth-placed Michigan by a slim margin of .175. Nebraska had the best mark of the afternoon, posting a 196.325, followed by Alabama (196.250).

Louisiana State (195.650) and Oklahoma (195.525) also missed out on making weekend competition.

“Everybody counted us out, even getting to finals,” said Nebraska team leader Emily Parsons. “It feels good to prove them wrong.”

Marsden’s Utes didn’t count a fall on the road for the second time this season, but they still struggled to pull through to the finals on a day when most of the lineup appeared to be slightly lethargic.

Louisiana State and Oklahoma both had an edge over the Utes headed into their vault and bar sets, when they finally turned it on.

“For whatever reason, vault really got us going,” Marsden said.

The U’s score of 49.300 was the best of the afternoon on the event, as was the team’s 49.125 on the uneven bars.

Sophomore Ashley Postell led the all-around after the early session on Thursday, a distinction that seems likely to have dissolved after the evening’s action, since the nation’s top five all-arounders were on teams in that group.

Nonetheless, Postell was happy with her performance, topping LSU’s April Burkholder by .25 with a 39.525. Junior Nicolle Ford finished fifth and freshman Nina Kim came in tied for 16th.

“I did the same thing last year,” Postell said of leading after the first session. “I know it probably won’t hold up, but that’s fine with me because this is a team thing.”

Postell made the individual event finals for every event, earning four-time All-American status for the second-straight year as well. Joining her in Saturday’s individual finals will be Ford and senior Gritt Hofmann on vault, as well as freshman Kristina Baskett on uneven bars.

Baskett and Ford were surprised by which individual finals they made.

“I don’t even have a second vault,” said Ford. “That was the last thing I expected to make All-American in. I may not even go if I’m invited.”

“Bars have always been my worst event, all the way up through college. I guess I’ve replaced that with beam now, though,” Baskett said.

Postell and the Red Rocks hope to get some good rest Thursday night before tomorrow’s team finals at 7 p.m.

“It was difficult,” said Postell. “We’re just glad to pull through. Tomorrow we start from zero again.”