Red Rocks take third

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

There was no storybook ending for Greg Marsden and the Red Rocks on Friday night after Utah qualified for the finals on a tiebreaker the night prior.

Utah, which posted a 197.425, took third after Alabama, which scored a 197.575, its second-highest total of the season.

Georgia won its fifth straight title by scoring a 197.825 behind an inspired performance by its senior leader, Courtney Kupets. The 2009 NCAA All-Around Champion earned two 10.0s on Friday night, first on the bars and again on the vault. Kupets capped her perfect night with an all-around title Friday night.

Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan will walk away from collegiate gymnastics after coaching her team to its 10th title.

“College gymnastics is going to miss (Yoculan),” Marsden said. “She has been someone who has done a great job building that program and creating a dynasty there. She is a character who not only drew attention to herself and her school, but to the sport as a whole.”

“Obviously this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for,” Marsden said. “But our performance was great; I really couldn’t ask for anything more. We thought we were out of the whole thing last night and we had felt like we were given a second chance and we just wanted to take advantage of it and they certainly did that tonight. I can’t say enough about how they performed.”

Utah stumbled out of the gates Friday night, scoring a 49.175 on the beam, its fourth-lowest score of the year on the apparatus. Junior Jamie Deetscreek rebounded from her 9.125 on Thursday night with a 9.850 in the finals. Senior Kristina Baskett recorded a 9.875–her only score below the 9.90 mark between Thursday and Friday nights.

“We started on a very difficult event to start on–the balance beam,” Marsden said. “And we just got stronger throughout the meet. They really did a great job tonight.”

After a bye, Utah returned to action on the floor and scored a 49.450–the team’s third-highest score all season long. Junior Daria Bijak and Baskett each scored 9.90s while junior Annie DiLuzio rebounded from her 9.275 on Thursday night with a 9.925. At the midway point of the competition, Utah and Georgia were tied for first at 98.625.

Utah recorded its highest score of the night on the vault, scoring a 49.525, highlighted by four scores above 9.90. Senior Nina Kim, along with junior Jamie Deetscreek, scored 9.900s, a new career high for Deetscreek. DiLuzio added a 9.925, while Baskett recorded her second straight 9.950 at nationals.

Going into the final rotation, the Red Rocks needed to score a 49.675 on the uneven bars to tie Georgia atop the standings. Baskett hit the 9.900 mark yet again with her routine, but it wasn’t enough to pass Georgia. Utah scored the same as it did the night before, finishing the night with a 49.275 on bars.

“I had a great time with my teammates,” Baskett said. “I had a great time cheering with them for the last time. We did everything we could tonight and there is absolutely nothing we regret, so there’s nothing more I could ask for. We had a great time tonight and we really bounced back from (Thursday).”

“We were disappointed for about 15 minutes,” Marsden said. “But it’s over now, we did well and we’ll move on. After we get over the initial disappointment, we will look back and be proud about what we did.”

Baskett and Bijak were the only Red Rocks who qualified for Saturday’s individual event championships. Bijak qualified to compete in the floor competition, while Baskett qualified for the bars, beam and vault.

“(Saturday) is a really fun night,” Baskett said. “It’s way less stressful. We get to cheer for everybody and watch everybody. It’s a completely different atmosphere than finals. I’m just excited to go out there and represent Utah.”

b.chouinard.chronicle.utah.edu

The Associated Press

The Red Rocks pose with the third place trophy at the NCAA gymnastics championships in Lincoln, Neb., on Friday.