Birmingham, Ala. • Utah imagined it would go head-to-head with UCLA for a spot in the Super Six, given how close the two teams have competed this year.
But what the Utes never expected was to be eliminated by old foe Nebraska.
The two teams competed on a regular basis until the Utes joined the Pac-12 and dropped the Huskers from their schedule last year.
After Friday, one can imagine the Utes don’t want to see the Huskers for a long time.
Utah thought it had taken care of the Huskers in the third rotation when it went ahead of Nebraska 147.725-147.65, particularly since the Utes finished on the vault and the Huskers were on the beam.
But in one of the craziest twists of the season, the vault failed the Utes as they scored just 49.3, their lowest score of the year.
The only gymnast who earned higher than a 9.9 was Georgia Dabritz, who anchored the lineup with a 9.925.
The Utes didn’t have any major breaks on the event, but couldn’t earn the big scores they needed either as the rest of the lineup was stuck scoring in the 9.8 range.
Meanwhile, Nebraska was having one of its best performances on the balance beam. The Huskers had four 9.9s, including three in a row to finish the rotation. All the Utes could do was watch from their section of the floor by vault.
“They are all great teams here and they had a killer night on beam,” Utah senior Mary Beth Lofgren said. “That is impressive, what they did on beam.”
As Emily Wong, the last gymnast for Nebraska, finished her routine the Huskers broke into a huge celebration. There was virtually no reaction from the Utes, who walked slowly off the floor and to their locker room.
“We were done early so we could watch them,” Utah coach Greg Marsden said of Nebraska’s beam performance. “They got on a roll and just did a great job. We didn’t expect that. We were feeling pretty good going to vault. I thought we had a good chance.”
Nebraska coach Dan Kendig admitted he thought it was over for his team going into the final rotation.
“We had a good start and then the momentum just went from there,” he said. “I think anyone would have wanted to have been in Greg’s shoes on vault, but they weren’t giving away scores over there either and it can be hard to stick vault too if you are feeling a lot of pressure.”
A closer look
Utah’s vault score was its lowest of the season. Here are the team’s vault scores for the year:
49.425 • Jan. 11 vs. Boise St./BYU/SUU
49.5 • Jan. 17 vs. Cal
49.6 • Jan. 25 vs. UCLA
49.45 • Feb. 1 vs. ASU
49.5 • Feb. 7 vs. Arizona
49.425 • Feb. 17 vs. Stanford
49.625 • Feb. 22 vs. Oregon St.
49.325 • Feb. 28 vs. Washington
49.375 • March 7 vs. Michigan and UCLA
49.575 • March 15 vs. Georgia
49.4 • March 22 at Pac-12s
49.325 • April 5 at Regionals
49.3 • April 18 at NCAAs