Red Rocks ready, healthy for Western regionals

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

Red Rocks keep up intensity during off week

It has been a long layover for the Red Rocks, who haven’t competed since their season finale back on March 20 against BYU. In that meet, Utah set its season-high in the all-around, scoring 197.80, which was good enough to be the second-highest score by any team all season long.

“It didn’t feel like a week off,” said junior Jamie Deetscreek. “Last week was kind of hard, just grinding through practice and getting stuff done, but this week everybody is really excited to just compete again. We have been waiting all year for this.”

After a long week of practice, head coach Greg Marsden concluded the off week with a mock meet Friday inside the Dumke Center. Rather than a normal day of practice, the Red Rocks used Friday to keep intensity and competition levels high by doing a run-through of a real meet to avoid becoming laid-back.

“We try to work on our mental approach to the events,” said senior Kristina Baskett. “We only get one chance, the team is watching and you’re in your spot in the lineup. So, there is a little more pressure and, of course, you wanted to do a good job because (Marsden) is determining line-ups from what you do in practice.”

Red Rocks turn attention to Emerald City

Although West regionals don’t start until Saturday, time will go by very quickly for Utah.

The final practice in Salt Lake City will be held today before taking a day off Wednesday, boarding a flight to Seattle on Thursday, getting in a single practice session Friday and competing on Saturday.

In the past, Utah has fared well in regional qualifying8212;perhaps the best in the history of the NCAA.

This year will be the 34th consecutive year Utah has qualified for regionals. The Red Rocks have reached this plateau every year since gymnastics became a varsity sport at Utah, dating back to the 1975-1976 season.

Out of the 33 years Utah has gone to regional qualifying, the Red Rocks have won 25 regional titles. Every other year, Utah has finished second, which is good enough to advance to nationals.

This year marks the fourth time Utah will have competed in the Western regional final.

Normally, Utah falls into the North Central region, where the Red Rocks have won five regional championships, but Utah has experienced success in the West as well. Utah has made three trips to the West region in recent years, beginning in 1999 when the Red Rocks finished second. But since 1999, Utah has made two more trips to the Western regional and won both of them, the first in 2002 and the second in 2007.

Health should be a non-issue

Injuries affect teams in all sports, but the Red Rocks seem to be an exception to that rule.

The only loss Utah has had to cope with is redshirt junior Beth Rizzo, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the season opener against UCLA. Rizzo had surgery on her ankle and should be ready next season, but aside from the Hoffman Estates, Ill., native, Utah is sitting pretty in terms of injury.

“We’re in as good of shape as you can hope to be in at the end of the season,” Marsden said. “We’re very fortunate. Nobody has anything that is keeping them from doing much.”

Early on in the year, the Red Rocks were without sophomore Kyndal Robarts, who missed the first three meets of the season, but Robarts has been strong for Utah as of late, solidifying herself in the lead-off position on the balance beam. Since Robarts’ return, no Red Rock has missed significant time because of injury and with regionals Saturday, Marsden couldn’t be happier

“It’s about making good decisions,” Marsden said. “Knowing when to push, when not to push. I would love to tell you after 30 years I’ve got it all figured out and we’ll never have another injury, but it just doesn’t work like that.”

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Tyler Cobb

Jamie Deetscreek and the Red Rocks are looking forward to the NCAA West Regional in Seattle Saturday.