Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Utah’s gymnastics team heads into tonight’s NCAA Regional competition as both an underdog and a favorite, as the No. 9 Utes compete here in Tuscaloosa against No. 3 Alabama and four other teams for the right to advance to the NCAA Championships April 19-21 in Los Angeles.
It will be difficult for the Utes to upset Alabama, which has won 34 home meets in a row dating back to 2009. However, the Utes believe a strong meet should allow them to beat No. 15 Denver, No. 23 Kent State, Iowa State and BYU, paving the way for another trip to the NCAA Championships.
Utah is the only team to participate in every NCAA Championship, a streak of 31 appearances in a row.
The Utes will start on a bye and then bars while BYU starts out on the bars. Alabama, the two-time defending NCAA champion, has the Olympic rotation of starting on vault and ending on floor.
The Utes went through a solid practice Friday, but acknowledge practices haven’t been an issue for them — staying on the balance beam during high pressured situations has been their downfall.
A subpar effort at the Pac-12 Championships cost them a shot at the title.
“As long as we do our job, we should be OK,” Utah coach Greg Marsden said.