Gymnastics: Bittersweet season end

Co-head coach Megan Marsden consoles Tory Wilson at nationals in Los Angeles after the scores revealed that the Red Rocks would not be advancing into the Super Six of the NCAA National Championships. Spencer Sandstrom / The Daily Utah Chronicle
Co-head coach Megan Marsden consoles Tory Wilson at nationals in Los Angeles after the scores revealed that the Red Rocks would not be advancing into the Super Six of the NCAA National Championships.
Spencer Sandstrom / The Daily Utah Chronicle

EARLY FINISH Gymnastics team shows great improvement, but does not advance to Super Six for first time in 13 years

A season that held many highs and lows for the Utes has drawn to a close. On more than one occasion this year, coaches and gymnasts have referred to their performances as a roller-coaster ride. Though the Utes season ended with them missing the Super Six for the first time in 13 years, that’s not how the Utes will remember the year.
“I really believe that this is the most improved Utah gymnastics team we’ve ever had from the beginning of a competitive season to the end,” said co-head coach Megan Marsden. “They took it upon themselves to fix things and make it look better or catch it more. I’m not sure anyone felt that, when Corrie Lothrop went down, that we stood much chance to really have a very good year, and because of this group and their gutsiness and improvements, [we’ve been successful].”
The improvement was most evident in their road performances where the Utes struggled in the early going. Their first event score of the year was a 48.075 on bars at UCLA, and they averaged a team score of 195.958 during their first three road meets.
But when they found themselves back in Pauley Pavilion for the NCAA Championships, they had what Georgia Dabritz called their best bar set of the season and scored a 49.475.
The Utes also had to compete at two of the most hostile venues in the nation when they visited Georgia on March 9 and Alabama for regionals on April 6. They scored a 196.975 and 196.4, respectively, and though they were unable to beat the host team in both instances, the scores were high enough to boost their RQS and help them get to the national finals.
The peaks and valleys this season have been most apparent on beam. Through the first few weeks of the season, it looked as though beam might be a strength for this team, especially when Dabritz hit some high scores in the early meets. But consistency soon became an issue. The event that coaches knew was going to be a bit of a wild card coming into the season propelled them to one of the highest scores in the nation this year when they scored a 49.425 against Florida, but went the opposite way in the postseason as the Utes saw a Pac-12 Championship and a berth in the Super Six slip away as they fell off the beam.
Dabritz isn’t worried because all of these gymnasts will be back next year, and she said she thinks the team can be ready to put up big beam scores next year.
“I think we definitely can [fix it],” she said. “It just takes a lot of time. You think it’s a physical thing, but most of the time it’s mental, and that’s the hardest part for us to fix, but we have all summer and all preseason to work on that.”
Though missing the Super Six was certainly a low point for the Utes, Dabritz, Tory Wilson and Nansy Damianova made sure they could end on a high note when all three qualified for individual event finals on Sunday. Dabritz took second place on bars — the highest any Ute has placed on that apparatus since 2006.
Utah will look forward to returning nine All-Americans next year and hopes are already high for the 2014 Utes. As for the end of this year, Dabritz said it’s a little bittersweet.
“Second is really great — I’m happy with that,” she said of the award. “I’m relieved that I’m done, but I’m sad because now my sophomore year is over. It happened so fast.”