Performing acrobatic skills on a 4-inch wide beam is a difficult task for most of the human race.
But for Utah gymnast Georgia Dabritz, it isn’t the apparatus that is beating her so much as it is her head.
Dabritz has fallen from the beam in Utah’s last two meets and five times out of 12 meets.
Utah coach Greg Marsden said before the season the Utes would live and die on the beam depending on how Dabritz performs and, well, suffice it to say no one is happy with the statistics.
Dabritz, Utah’s talented sophomore who has been not only steady, but also outstanding on the other events, just can’t seem to find the mental fortitude on the beam that she has on the others.
Conquering the mental aspect of competing on the beam has been a longstanding problem, and tough Dabritz is improving, the change simply can’t happen overnight, she and Utah’s coaches maintain.
“I know eventually it will come,” she said. “It is frustrating for me and for a lot of people who want me to do well. But all I can do is keep plugging away at it.”
Unfortunately, the Utes don’t have time to wait, not with nationals starting Friday in Los Angeles. Utah will start on the floor and end on the beam in Thursday’s semifinal event, the same rotation the Utes had at the Pac-12 meet.
Dabritz is trying to keep a positive outlook.
“We want redemption,” she said. “We made a lot of mistakes on beam at Pac-12s, so hopefully we can change the outcome at nationals.”
Dabritz’s inconsistencies are giving the Utes fits for a couple of reasons. When she hits, she scores high. She has four scores of 9.8 or better, including two 9.9s. Such high scores make it tempting to gamble and use Dabritz in the lineup regardless of who else might be available.
In reality, there is no one else who can take the spot. With Corrie Lothrop and Kailah Delaney sidelined with injuries, the Utes simply don’t have anyone else they can put in the lineup for Dabritz.
Haley Lange and Nansy Damianova are working on routines, but aren’t competition-ready, said coach Megan Marsden.
Dabritz understands the situation, making a difficult predicament even worse on the sophomore, Marsden said.
“We feel bad for Georgia,” she said. “I don’t know how many more hits she can take.”
Marsden has worked closely with Dabritz throughout the season, and the two thought they found a solution by having Dabritz count through her routine, a task that keeps her from thinking negative thoughts.
However, the trick hasn’t worked the last two weeks, leaving both Dabritz and Marsden searching for answers. Marsden feels particularly close to the situation because she went through a similar battle when she was a gymnast.
“It is a long process,” she said. “I remember when we had Kristina Baskett here, she struggled until she started taking mental pictures of herself on the beam. But she didn’t have that down until she was a senior, and then she was amazing on beam, but it didn’t change overnight.”
Dabritz feels she is getting better, she just hopes her improvement can translate into success.
“I’ve been a lot more consistent in practice and that has been a big step for me,” she said. “I just have to keep working at it.”
NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships
P Friday semifinals with Utah , 7 p.m., Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles