No major surprises in regionals
For once, the NCAA regional meets played out as predicted Saturday, with no major upsets in the six regional competitions.
Advancing to the NCAA Championships on April 24-26 in Athens, Ga., along with Utah are Georgia, Denver, Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Stanford, Florida and UCLA.
The Utes have been ranked in the top three all season, but will go into the national championships with a low seed because their regional score was lower than many winners around the country.
In years past, the regional score didn't affect a team's seed at nationals, but this season, it is added to its regional qualifying score, creating a national qualifying score.
Second-ranked Utah didn't get any breaks with the new system and will compete with top-ranked Georgia, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 UCLA and No. 13 Denver in the night session on April 24.
The afternoon session will be No. 3 Florida, No. 4 Alabama, No. 7 LSU, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 11 Arkansas.
The top three teams from each session advance to Friday's Super Six competition.
Three-time defending champion Georgia, host of the 2008 NCAA Championships, didn't have any problems qualifying, winning the Northeast region with a 197.775. The score tied Georgia's school record for a regional meet.
The tight battle was for second, where Denver edged out Penn State, scoring a 195.775 to Penn State's 195.7. BYU finished fifth out of the six teams with a 194.325. Auburn was fourth at 195.15 and Iowa State was sixth with a 194.2.
The Cougars haven't qualified for nationals since 2005, when they finished 11th.
One of the most interesting meets was in the Southeast, where third-ranked Florida easily advanced scoring a 197.525, but UCLA (196.625) barely held off Nebraska (196.1).
Alabama won the South Central title with a 197.3 and Oklahoma was second with a 195.875. LSU won the Central title with a 197.625 and Stanford took second with a 197.525.
Oregon State won the West crown with a 197.1 and Michigan earned a 196.375.
Oregon State 393.75
Group A: Georgia, Stanford, Utah, Michigan, UCLA, Denver
Group B: Florida, LSU, Alabama, Oregon State, Oklahoma, Arkansas