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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Adams: Red Rocks will struggle at Nationals without Tory Wilson

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As the gymnastics beat reporter for The Daily Utah Chronicle last season, I spent a lot of time with Red Rock senior Tory Wilson. Her accolades set her apart from most gymnasts — seven-time All-American, 2014 Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year and All-Around champion and a fair share of 10s — but where Wilson really separates herself from her peers is off the mat.

Ask any current or former Utah athlete who has had the privilege of crossing paths with Wilson and they will tell you how radiant her personality is. Every time I walked in to the Dumke Gymnastics Center on campus, whether it was following a big win or a disappointing loss, Wilson was always there with a smile.

Through the best of times and the worst of times, it didn’t matter to Wilson — she always tried to make the most out of any situation. Throughout a number of interviews in 2014, topics of conversation ranged from summer workouts to John Mayer, and no matter how stupid my questions about gymnastics may have been, Wilson was always willing to answer. That personality helped her motivate and calm her teammates.

When Utah travels to Berkeley for the NCAA Regional on Saturday, it will no doubt miss Wilson, who suffered two separate season-ending foot injuries during the Pac-12 Championships. Wilson was a rock in all four events for the Utes, and has been for quite some time.

But co-head coaches Greg and Megan Marsden have done an amazing job at bringing in top gymnastics talent year in and year out, and the Red Rocks have the necessary personnel to qualify for their 40th-straight NCAA national championship meet.

There are three things for certain in life — death, taxes and Utah gymnastics qualifying for the national meet. They always say take it one game (or meet) at a time, but I don’t think the Marsdens and company are worried all that much about making it out of Berkeley.

So now the question becomes not if Utah can make it out of the regional, but are the Red Rocks still good enough to compete for a national title against the likes of Florida and Oklahoma, sans Wilson?

As reported by our own Ryan Miller, freshman Tiffani Lewis is expected to take Wilson’s spot on bars, floor and vault, while Kailah Delaney will take over the final beam slot.

While Delaney will play a role in whether the Utes can continue to move forward without taking a step back, the real determinant falls in the hands of Lewis. The freshman will be taking Wilson’s place in three events, and has a high standard to uphold. Lewis is used to the spotlight, being the state champion on vault, bars, beam, floor and all-around in Nevada prior to making her way to Salt Lake City.

But this is an entirely different level for anyone, especially a freshman. Lewis has competed this season, but not nearly to the extent of Wilson. In addition to competing in every event in every meet, Wilson’s best scores on the three other events (vault, bars, beam) sits a clear .550 above Lewis’ best scores on the same events.

In gymnastics, that is a lot of ground to make up and I’m not sure Lewis can pick up that slack. The freshman is young and probably has a great future ahead of her, but when it comes to a national meet in her first collegiate season, it would take some serious ice in the veins for Lewis to come through in the clutch.

Maybe the Marsdens have something up their sleeve and maybe I’m completely underestimating the talent level of Lewis, who knows?

What I do know, though, is that the Red Rocks will find their way back to the national championship meet with ease, but will miss Wilson in Fort Worth the following week. To the dismay of Red Rock faithful, the national championship drought will continue until at least next season.

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