Gymnastics: Red Rocks head to Minnesota as No. 1 seed

By By Jon Gilbert and By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

The Utah gymnastics team received a bid to the North Central Region Championship as the top seed Monday. The North Central Region will be held April 12 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

All six regions were assigned six of the top 36 teams in the nation. The top two teams in each region — as well as the top two all-around performers not on an advancing team — will move on to the national competition in Athens, Ga., which will take place April 24 to April 26.

Joining Utah in the North Central Region are No. 11 Arkansas, No. 14 Arizona, No. 23 Iowa, Southern Utah and Minnesota.

Utah has defeated both Southern Utah and host Minnesota already this season.

Head coach Greg Marsden was expecting to go to Minnesota last week, but some shifting in the rankings — primarily Stanford jumping from No. 10 to No. 6 — made it look as if Utah would be heading to Norman, Okla. As it ends up, the Utes were right to begin with.

“It really is probably the best scenario for us,” Marsden said.

Assistant head coach Megan Marsden and assistant coach Jeff Graba both have family in Minnesota. Marsden said that the Minneapolis destination makes it reasonably easy for family and fans to travel to see the team compete.

Marsden was also happy with his team’s rotation. Because six teams are competing in four events, two teams have to sit out during each rotation, so each team has two byes.

Utah will receive a bye to begin with before they compete on bars. Because Utah typically performs on bars first in away meets, it will provide some normalcy in the unfamiliar format. After bars, the team goes directly to the balance beam before taking its second bye. After the second bye, Utah advances to the floor and vault competitions.

The team spent Tuesday getting familiar and comfortable with the competition format, which is much different than the regular season progression.

Marsden and the Red Rocks hope to be one of the top two teams to advance from regionals to nationals.

“We have to go into that environment and focus (on) what we’re doing,” Marsden said.

Utah doesn’t want to get distracted by the new format or how the other five teams are performing.

The other top seeds in the country are No. 1 Georgia (Northeast), No. 3 Florida (Southeast), No. 4 Michigan (West Region), No. 5 Alabama (South Central Region) and No. 6 Stanford (Central Region).

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Maegan Burr

Kristina Baskett and the Utes are headed to Minneapolis this week, where they will compete against home team Minnesota and four other teams on April 12 as they try to advance out of the North Central Region.