Utah gymnastics: Utes aim for individual NCAA crowns
Los Angeles • Utah's gymnasts couldn't handle the pressure of competing for their team during Friday's NCAA preliminary round, with three falls on the balance beam preventing Utah from advancing to the Super Six for the first time since 1999.
Now, a few of them will see how they can handle the pressure of competing only for themselves in Sunday's individual competition at Pauley Pavilion.
To qualify, a gymnast must finish in the top four of their session.
Sophomore Tory Wilson qualified for the vault with a 9.9, Georgia Dabritz (9.95) and Nansy Damianova (9.925) qualified on the uneven bars and Damianova qualified on the floor (9.925).
Utah hasn't had an individual champion since Ashley Postell won the balance beam in 2007.
That drought realistically could end Sunday, given the way Utah's participants have competed on their events this season.
Wilson finished the year ranked third on the vault with a 9.96 average and became the first Utah gymnast to win or tie for the event title in every meet, a streak of 11 meets in a row.
Competition order is determined by random draw and Wilson pulled a prime spot, going next to last out of 24 competitors.
At that point, the judges shouldn't feel much need to be conservative in their scoring if Wilson hits.
Wilson has been an example of consistency all year long getting height and distance on her vaults and always sticking the landing.
UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa, ranked No. 1 with a 9.97 average, and Florida's Kytra Hunter, ranked second with a 9.965 average, also qualified.
Hunter competes fourth and Zamarripa will go 19th.
The luck of the draw wasn't so good for Utah on the uneven bars. There, Dabritz will go first and Damianova will go second out of 10 qualifiers. However, Dabrtiz has a reputation of being one of the best bar workers in the nation having won the regional title the last two years and finished the season tied for ninth with a 9.91 average.
Florida's Bridget Sloan, who won the all-around title Friday, is ranked No. 1 on the event with a 9.955 average.
"I'm excited to compete," Dabritz said. "I wish the team had qualified, but now I can go out there and just have fun and show what I can do."
Damianova's qualification on the floor came as a surprise since she is ranked only 45th on the event with a 9.885 average.
She will compete ninth out of 12 qualifiers.
Utah coach Greg Marsden said his only disappointment was the absence of Becky Tutka from the floor finals.
Tutka, ranked ninth on the event with a 9.92 average, hit her routine Friday but earned only 9.9. The cutoff on floor was a 9.925.
"We had some good things happen for us," he said of the individual qualifiers. "It wasn't an all bad night."
O At UCLA
Sunday, 2 p.m. MT
Live coverage • ESPN3 online coverage
Live scoring • http://www.uclabruins.com •
Utah's last champions
Vault • Kristen Kenoyer, 1999, 9.8125
Uneven bars • Kristina Baskett, 2006, 9.85
Balance beam • Ashley Postell, 2007, 9.9375
Floor • Missy Marlowe, 1992, 9.975