One of the main reasons Utah’s gymnastics team hosts a sneak preview is to give their freshmen a taste of what it’s like to perform in front of the large crowds at the Huntsman Center.
Unfortunately, illness and injuries prevented Utah’s rookies from being at their best in Friday’s affair. However, their limited participation was only a mild disappointment on what was an overall solid night for the fifth-ranked Utes, who held an intrasquad in front of 3,700 fans.
Junior Corrie Lothrop and sophomore Georgia Dabritz were both solid, as was junior Hailee Hansen, who was voted a captain along with Lothrop.
Dabritz in particular competed with a new air of confidence Friday.
“It was helpful to have this last year before the season started and it was even better this year; I was really relaxed,” she said.
Dabritz said she believes the Utes are in for a good year despite being a young team facing a difficult schedule.
The Utes open the season Jan. 12 at No. 2 UCLA.
“I think we can be good,” she said. “We had a good night tonight and the season hasn’t even started yet and we can still improve.”
Utah co-coach Megan Marsden said she felt the team might be further along than she thought.
“It was a good night even though we had some new people in new roles,” she said.
One gymnast to watch is sophomore Kassandra Lopez, who was slowed by tendinitis last year but could earn a spot in the all-around lineup this season.
As for the freshmen, Taylor Allex has been sidelined with a hairline fracture in her back and is only now returning to practice. Marsden is hopeful she’ll be ready to contribute by midseason.
Fellow freshmen Haley Lange and Breanna Hughes have been sick and limited in practice.
Also sidelined was Kailah Delaney, who had surgery in September to repair a torn knee ligament. The Utes are hopeful she can compete by midseason.
Overall, the Utes expect Friday’s showing to be just a tease of what the 2013 season has in store for them. Utah coach Greg Marsden expects the Utes to be strong in their tumbling as they were last year.
“We are going to start out with a lot of difficulty, that is just the type of personnel we have right now,” he said. “I think the thing that will determine how successful we are is balance beam. We have some big holes to fill there.”
The Utes graduated Cortni Beers, Stephanie McAllister and Kyndal Robarts, who were all key beam workers.
“We’ve had a good preseason,” Greg Marsden said. “The good thing is the ones who won’t be contributing in the beginning of the season we should get back.”