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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Red Rocks prepare for Regional Championships

By Tony Pizza

It’s April, which means it is time for the collegiate gymnastics postseason. In other words, it’s the Red Rocks’ time of year. Since the Regional began in 1976, the Utes have qualified for all 22 of the NCAA Regional Championships. But the team is still looking forward to its 2007 Regional.

“It’s exciting?because it is Nationals,” Ashley Postell said. “It’s what we’ve been training for all preseason and during the season. It’s finally here. It’s really exciting, though, especially because it will be here.”

Not that it’s a surprise to see the Utes so enthusiastic.

Sporting the only 800-win coach in women’s gymnastics, along with the distinction of being the only team to qualify for all 25 NCAA Championships, the Utes are hardly entering uncharted waters. But like every one of Greg Marsden’s 32 seasons, certain challenges have emerged this year.

Back in the gym Monday, the Red Rocks’ youth reared its head again, resulting in a practice that was especially disappointing considering the Utes have a limited amount of time to prepare for the Regional on April 14.

“It was disappointing. I really expected people to come in here determined and enthusiastic,” Marsden said. “It was kind of the opposite of what I expected. It’s just a reflection of what’s happened all year.”

Postell agreed that Monday’s practice didn’t go as planned and she stressed the need for improvement.

“It’s really important because I know we’ve been struggling for a long time with practice and competition and certain things,” Postell said. “So it’s really important to change what we’ve been doing. We really want it, but we’ve just been really struggling.”

Change in rotation plans

The Regional Championships present a different meet format from the regular season. Because there are six teams competing in one night, every team has to deal with breaks or event byes between rotations.

“It’s a long day with the byes, both for warm-ups and competition,” Marsden said. “You have to be able to come up and down (physically). You want to take advantage of those byes.”

At the West Regional, the Utes will have the benefit of being on the Olympic rotation (Production Note lingo box). The Utes will have byes between their first and second rotations and their third and fourth rotations.

Glimpse into the West Regional

The No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers will headline the West Regional this year after they narrowly overtook the Utes for the last No. 1 seed by winning the Big 12 Championship on the final day of the regular season. The Utes will be the No. 2 team going into the meet, but only in the rankings.

The Utes have already faced the Cornhuskers once this season, when they went to Lincoln, Neb., and lost 196.675-196.100 on March 4. But the familiarity between Nebraska and Utah extends far beyond this season.

The Utes and Cornhuskers have had some notorious meetings in the postseason. Since 1985, Utah and Nebraska have met in the Regional 14 times. They have simultaneously competed against each other at Nationals 17 times, including in 1997, when the Utes and Cornhuskers tied for third in the qualifying round and the Utes were held out of the final after losing a tiebreaker.

“I really like Dan (Kendig) and his staff. They’re a real nice team. We enjoy competing with them,” Marsden said. “Often it seems like it comes to Utah or Nebraska-especially going on to the Super Six. I think both times we haven’t made it, it was Nebraska that went in just ahead of us.”

For the Utes to get out of this year’s regional, they will have to prove they are one of the best two teams in Berkeley, Calif. Utah already knows it is a more talented team than Washington, and the team’s two wins against the Huskies are proof of that. The only other team that will threaten the Utes’ string of 25 straight NCAA appearances is the Missouri Tigers.

The Tigers enter the Regional with a Qualifying Score of 195.660, which is more than one full point lower than Utah’s. In fact, the Utes have only scored below Missouri’s RQS once, when they turned in a 195.475 at Georgia.

Missouri does have a season high of 196.675, which is just .5 points less than Utah’s season high of 196.725. For that reason, the Utes know that they cannot coast through the Regional.

Kim Peterson

Ashley Postell performs on the beam in Provo on Friday. The Red Rocks travel to Berkeley, Calif., to compete for the NCAA regional championship April 14.

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