Gymnastics: Utes fail to make Super Six

Georgia Dabritz holds up her second-place trophy for the uneven bars during Sunday’s NCAA Gymnastics Championship awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Jonathan Royce / The Daily Utah Chronicle
Georgia Dabritz holds up her second-place trophy for the uneven bars during Sunday’s NCAA Gymnastics
Championship awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Royce / The Daily Utah Chronicle

LOS ANGELES — The Utes earned one of the highest scores in school history just over a month ago, but they weren’t able to carry any momentum into the postseason.
As a result, Utah failed to reach the Super Six of the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1999, as it finished fifth in its semifinal Friday night. The Utes would have needed to finish in the top three to qualify for Saturday’s Super Six, which Florida won to capture the national title.
Friday’s meet at Pauley Pavillion was a familiar story for Utah gymnasts, whose missteps on beam in the final rotation proved to be their undoing once again.
“I think they worked hard all night, and it just wasn’t our night,” co-head coach Greg Marsden said. “They worked hard all year and they’ve been through a lot.”
Utah went into the final rotation in fourth place, needing a 49.225 to tie Oklahoma. Instead, the Utes walked away with a season-low 48.225 on the event — their Achilles heel throughout 2013.
Becky Tutka began the set with a few major balance checks on her routine and was forced to settle for a 9.45. All hope was not lost though, as freshman Breanna Hughes continued her consistent performances with a 9.85 in her career debut at the NCAA Championships.
But after that, it was over quickly as both Tory Wilson and Kassandra Lopez fell off the apparatus and scored 9.225 and 9.3, respectively.
“We wanted to go in with no expectations and just do the best that we could and I think towards the end we just tried a little bit too hard,” Wilson said.
Finishing off the night and thus, the season, for the Utes was Georgia Dabritz, who was able to earn a bit of redemption for herself on beam, avoiding a fall for the first time in the postseason. She had changed her dismount to make it more suited to her style and earned herself a 9.825.
“Beam, we knew from the beginning of the season, that was going to be the event that would determine how well we could do,” Marsden said. “It was a roller coaster on that event all year and so, we talked at the end, that’s got to be our focus in the offseason, is to get much better on that.”
Utah was in it from the beginning when it kicked its night off with a 49.3 on floor after a first-rotation bye. After three scores in the 9.8-range, Nansy Damianova laid down a routine that earned her a 9.925 and a spot in the individual event finals. Becky Tutka followed Damianova with a 9.9 of her own to get the Utes off on the right foot.
After earning a 49.2 on vault in the second rotation, Utah was only in fourth coming off of its two strongest events. But the gymnasts proved they were far from done with what Dabritz called their best bar set of the year. The Utes’ score of 49.475 was the second-best bar score Utah has ever had at nationals, but it wasn’t enough to extend the season for one more night.
“I had the feeling that some people were just trying a little too hard tonight,” Marsden said. “It’s a relatively young team, and I hope that we can learn from our mistakes tonight.”
Though the Utes as a team finished their season Friday night, Dabritz, Damianova and Wilson competed in Sunday’s individual event finals. Dabritz tied for second on bars with a 9.9, Damianova placed sixth on both bars and floor, scoring 9.8125 and 9.875 respectively and Wilson, who was undefeated on vault in the regular season, scored 9.8917 for fifth.
The weekend marked the end of the campaign for a Utah team that had no seniors and suffered some key injuries. Those factors had Marsden looking forward to 2014.
“We’ve got everybody back [next year],” he said. “So I hope we can work on the things we need to and just have a little better mental approach.”