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Utah gymnastics: Pac-12 growing in gymnastics strength

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(Lennie Mahler | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mary Beth Lofgren performs on the floor earning a 9.800 in a meet against Oregon State, West Virginia, and SUU at the Huntsman Center, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. The Red Rocks edged the competition with a final score of 196.950, followed by Oregon State with a score of 195.950.

By Lya Wodraska

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jan 28 2013 11:27AM
Updated May 5, 2013 11:33PM

Utah’s gymnastics team went from a comfortable lead to being within a fall of possibly losing its meet at Arizona on Friday.

In the end, the Utes gutted out the 196.6-196.075 win thanks to a career-tying effort by Mary Beth Lofgren on the balance beam and a stepout by Arizona on the floor.

Meets such as that, though, are a good reminder the days of blowing out teams are likely a thing of the past for the Utes as parity in Pac-12 Conference gymnastics continues to rise.

The Utes are old hands when it comes to competing against the nation’s best, but having tough meets such as Friday’s week in and week out is still relatively new.

The No. 9 Utes are just one of the six Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 25.

"There aren’t any gimmees anymore," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "Arizona has been doing a nice job and there are some new coaches in the league and teams like Cal have turned the corner. We know we are going to have to compete at our best in every meet."

That urgency even goes for Friday’s opponent, Arizona State, which is just out of the Top 25 rankings with a 194.525 average.

ASU scored a 195.6 last week in a loss to UCLA (196.375).

"They are beginning to get it together," Marsden said. "They’ve dealt with some injuries in the past and haven’t been as healthy as they wanted to be. But they are putting things together now and we have to show up."

Florida is ranked No. 1 with a 197.025 average followed by Oklahoma (196.938), Michigan (196.9), UCLA (196.65) and Alabama (196.533).

Getting noticed

The Utes used several gymnasts in exhibition Friday to determine how they’d handle the pressure of competing. While they were all solid, junior Lia Del Priore in particular got Marsden’s attention on the floor, scoring a 9.825.

While Marsden would like to get her into the rotation, he doesn’t see a glaring weak spot in the lineup that would make for an easy substitution.

"That is becoming a very competitive lineup," he said. "It’s nice to get some depth, even if it does make our decision tougher week in and week out."

Of note

Tory Wilson is ranked second on vault (9.9 average), Georgia Dabritz is fifth on bars (9.883), Corrie Lothrop is No. 13 in the all-around (39.317) and Dabritz is No. 18 (39.275)....The Utes have won or tied for every individual event and all-around title in the last two meets...The Utes have hit 67-for-72 routines with Lothrop pacing the team by hitting 12-for-12.

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