The shock of losing its best gymnast to injury had turned to determination by Monday for Utah’s gymnastics team.
The Utes, who beat Arizona State 196.425-195.45 on Friday but lost Corrie Lothrop for the season when she tore her Achilles tendon, said they are determined to make up for Lothrop’s absence.
Such a goal is quite a challenge, considering Lothrop is the defending Pac-12 champion, a co-captain and one of the most consistent athletes on the Utes’ roster.
“She definitely has some big shoes to fill, and it will be hard to not have her in the gym,” junior Mary Beth Lofgren said. “But the whole team wants to do it for her. We know we have to regroup and get everything going again.”
The No. 7 Utes seemed on the verge of finding a high level Friday as they rolled through their win over the Sun Devils. The only major miscues were two falls on the balance beam. But then Lothrop went down during floor warmups, leaving the team shaken and certainly not thinking about victories as she was helped off the floor.
Now the Utes are thinking about victories for Lothrop, starting with Saturday’s meet against No. 23 Cal in the Huntsman Center.
Lothrop underwent surgery Monday to repair the tear, the second she has had during her gymnastics career.
“We’re going to roll up our sleeves and move on,” Utah coach Greg Marsden said. “You can’t dwell on the negative, and we have to stay focused and moving forward. We have people ready to fill those spots so that is what they have to do.”
Lothrop was a virtual lock for at least a 9.85 on all events and was extremely consistent, hitting 112 of 116 routines in her career.
Filling in for her will be Lofgren on the vault, Tory Wilson on the uneven bars, freshman Haley Lange on the balance beam and junior Lia Del Priore on floor. The Utes also hope sophomore Kassandra Lopez can compete on more events in the near future as she heals from a lower leg strain.
There isn’t much experience among that group, but Marsden believes the gymnasts can meet the challenge, particularly since the injury happened relatively early in the season.
“Corrie was a top all-arounder, and it’s going to take a group effort to replace her, but we have people who can get better through the season,” he said. “We can get closer to those scores. It’s going to change some roles for people, but they are all capable of it and hopefully they’ll see this as an opportunity and take advantage of it.”
The one area Lothrop will be missed the most is the balance beam. Sophomore Georgia Dabritz has fallen off the beam in the last two meets, and Lofgren fell off after what she called a mental letdown Friday.
Now more than ever the Utes know they can’t afford such letdowns.
“We got the job done on Friday, and I think we have the potential to do it,” sophomore Becky Tutka said.”The new girls are going to have to work at it, and we know the details are what keeps us from getting the high scores, so we have to take care of the details.”
At this point, they have no choice.
By season average:
1. Florida 197.135
2. Oklahoma 197.025
3. Michigan 196.855
4. UCLA 196.719
5. Alabama 196.638
6. Georgia 196.492
7. Utah 196.319
8. LSU 196.29
9. Nebraska 196.225
10. Stanford 195.9
11. Denver 195.665
12. Oregon St. 195.56
13. Minnesota and
15. Auburn 195.465
16. Boise St. 195.3
17. Maryland 195.275
18. Kentucky 195.24
19. Arkansas 195.125
20. Ohio St. 195.035
21. C. Michigan 195.945
22. Illinois 194.931
23. Cal 194.92
24. Kent St. 194.875
25. Washington 194.8