Cleveland • Mary Beth Lofgren has competed hard all year for Utah's gymnastics team. On Sunday, she got to compete for herself. The reward for all her hard work was placing fifth in a tie with Illinois' Melissa Fernandez on the balance beam, with a 9.8375.
Lofgren, a graduate of Skyline High School, didn't bring as many credentials with her to Utah as some of her teammates, but she turned out to be one of the Utes' best gymnasts in 2011.
She showed why she earned so much respect as a freshman on Sunday, hitting a solid routine that was good enough to go up against the best gymnasts in the country on the event.
"It was amazing being up there because I didn't have any idea I'd be here as a freshman," Lofgren said. "It was different because you are the only one up there, but competing one at a time like that made it seem more like our meets at the Huntsman Center."
Utah coach Megan Marsden, who coaches the beam, tried to play off that Huntsman Center experience to keep Lofgren loose.
"She really responds to that team idea and I was a little worried how she'd handle it today in a big show, but she did great," Marsden said.
Great is how Lofgren has been all season.
A four-time qualifier to the Junior Olympics, Lofgren enrolled in school early and participated in the team's voluntary workouts.
That experience gave her a jump-start into a season that saw her develop into a regular participant on everything but the uneven bars.
She won five individual titles, four on the balance beam, and was critical for the Utes' success at the NCAAs.
She earned a 9.75 on the vault and a 9.825 on the beam in the preliminaries and a 9.75 on the floor and a 9.85 on the beam in the Utes' Super Six showing.
"What can you say about her?" Utah's Greg Marsden asked. "What a story of the local girl coming in and doing so well. To have her at or near the top of the beam lineup her first year and to be first team All-American on the beam, her future is bright."
Lofgren is eager to start preparations for the 2012 season, but first she's going to rest.
"I'm exhausted after three days of competition, but it has been fun," she said.
Utah junior Stephanie McAllister finished tied with Michigan's Katie Zurales for 13th out of 16 competitors on the vault, scoring a 9.7313.
McAllister knew she didn't have much of a chance in the vault finals because she doesn't have a second vault, which is required for the NCAA individual championships.
McAllister was working a second earlier in the year but stopped training on it to focus on making her one vault as good as it can be.
She earned a 9.8375 on her first vault and a 9.625 on a layout for the average score.
"I'm just proud of her for making vault finals," Greg Marsden said. "She was teasing me that she might try to throw that second vault and I said, 'No way.' "
The Utes haven't had an individual winner since Ashley Postell won the balance beam title in 2007. â¦ CBS will broadcast the meet May 14 at 1 p.m. MDT. â¦ The 2012 NCAA Championships will be in Duluth, Ga., and will be co-hosted by Georgia Tech, which doesn't have a gymnastics team. The city bid with the University of Georgia as a co-host, unbeknownst to the school. Georgia, already hosting two championships next year, declined to take on more, leaving the city to ask its rival to help host the event.
Vault • Marissa King, Florida, 9.875
Uneven bars • Kat Ding, Georgia, 9.9125
Balance beam • Sam Peszek, UCLA, 9.9
Floor • Geralen Stack-Eaton, Alabama, 9.9375