Utah’s gymnastics team knew it was going to miss the presence of Corrie Lothrop, the defending Pac-12 all-around champion whose season was cut short after she tore her Achilles tendon.
However, the Utes just didn’t know it was her mind they might miss the most. While undoubtably one of the most talented in skill, Lothrop also gave the Utes tremendous consistency, something lacking in what coach Greg Marsden calls the "head" events of balance beam and uneven bars.
Top 25 (by Regional Qualifying Score)
1. Oklahoma 197.41
2. Florida 197.28
3. Michigan 196.975
4. Alabama 196.81
5. LSU 196.77
6. UCLA 196.72
7. Georgia 196.595
8. Utah 196.375
9. Oregon St. 196.37
10. Nebraska 196.365
11. Auburn 196.27
12. Stanford 196.235
13. Denver 195.99
14. Minnesota 195.775
15. Arizona 195.64
16. West Virginia 195.56
17. Washington 195.52
18. Ohio St. 195.495
19. Illinois and Kent St. 195.48
21. Kentucky 195.445
22. Penn St. 195.415
23. Maryland 195.34
24. Iowa 195.265
25. Arkansas 195.26
The Utes have plenty of power to get them through vault and floor, but continue to struggle with consistency on the other events. Missteps and bobbles made for a close 197.3-197.075 win over Stanford on Saturday.
"We’ve had good performances from individuals on both events, but we aren’t consistently hitting [them both] throughout," he said.
The Utes are trying to replicate pressure situations in practice and work on the mental aspect, but they are also treading a line of perhaps making things worse by focusing on those areas too much, Marsden acknowledged.
"We have to bring a different approach to training," he said. "We aren’t competing the way we train."
Meanwhile, all Lothrop can do is act as a cheerleader from the sideline.
"She is someone who had great mental skills under pressure," Marsden said. "She was a big loss in terms of toughness and consistency and score and execution, no question about it. But she is gone for the season, and I give a lot of credit to people like Tory Wilson and Lia Del Priore for stepping up their game. We just need to find a way to get more consistent in the whole lineup."
In the rankings
This marks the first week the rankings are totaled by the Regional Qualifying Score, in which the six best scores are taken, three of which must be from road meets. The high score is eliminated and the other five are averaged.
The change didn’t affect the Utes too much, as they dropped a spot to No. 8. However, Marsden noted the Utes have to get better on the road.
"We are doing the same thing we did last year when we shot ourselves in the foot on the road," he said.
Oklahoma holds the top spot with an RQS of 197.41, followed by Florida (197.28) and Michigan (196.975).
The Sooners were the talk of the gymnastics world after posting a 198.375 in a win over UCLA (197.2) Friday, but overall Marsden said there were very few teams in the rankings that surprised him.
One team that has his attention is No. 11 Auburn, which is coached by former Utah assistant Jeff Graba.
"He has done a magnificent job," Marsden said. "He has put together a couple recruiting classes and it is a young team, but they are putting things together and have the potential to shake up things in the SEC."
Utah travels to BYU on Friday, where the Utes are 24-2. ... Wilson remains No. 1 on the vault with a 9.945 average. ... The Utes are 158 for 168 in hit routines.
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