Utah gymnastics: Utah gymnasts in tough session for NCAAs
As the team awards were being announced at the Tuscaloosa Regional in Alabama, Utah coach Greg Marsden stood to the side and looked at the list of 12 teams that made the 2013 NCAA Championships.
"Every team there is good," he said with an expression between a grimace and a grin.
Especially in Utah's session. As the 10th seed, the ninth-ranked Utes will compete in the evening against second-ranked Oklahoma, No. 3 Alabama, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 UCLA and No. 16 Arkansas as determined by their national qualifying score, a combination of the regional score and the regional qualifying score.
The early session consists of No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Georgia, No. 7 LSU, No. 11 Stanford, No. 12 Minnesota and No. 17 Illinois.
The top three teams from each of the April 19 preliminary sessions in Los Angeles will advance to the Super Six scheduled for the following night.
The highly ranked teams that were upset and didn't make the NCAAs were No. 8 Nebraska and No. 10 Oregon State.
Those two teams consistently make the NCAAs, and their failure to qualify simultaneously drove home how difficult it is becoming to reach the final meet of the year and the accomplishment the Utes achieved in keeping their streak alive.
Utah's appearance will be its 32nd straight at the NCAAs and probably one of the more satisfying because the Utes didn't have the services of two of their best gymnasts this year with Corrie Lothrop and Kailah Delaney sidelined by injuries.
The Utes have suffered inconsistent performances in their absence, particularly on the balance beam, but nevertheless found a way to make the NCAA field once more.
Utah was under pressure Saturday it was tied with Denver for second going into the final rotation and delivered a 49.4 on the vault to finish second.
The Utes will need a similar heroic effort to reach the Super Six, considering Utah has lost to Alabama and UCLA this year while Oklahoma has been a constant at the top of the rankings.
The Bruins have the added advantage of competing in front of their home crowd.
But now that they have qualified, the Utes like the idea of being underdogs because they've competed their best in that role.
"Hopefully we can make some waves and surprise some people," Tory Wilson said. "These meets have shown anything can happen, and we'll just go and do our best and see what happens."
Saturday's second-place finish gave the Utes a little boost of confidence, especially after they faltered at the Pac-12 Championships under pressure.
The Utes handled Saturday's situation much better, which Marsden takes as a sign of growth from his young team.
"We didn't tighten up and panic, and that didn't happen at the Pac-12s," he said. "When the scores are out of your control, you just can't worry about them, all you can do is go out and do your best."
Now, the Utes hope their best will be good enough to keep them advancing.
"We don't have anything to lose," Becky Tutka said. "We're the underdogs now."
NCAA Gymnastics Championships
P at Pauley Pavilon, UCLA, April 19-21
Session 1, April 19, 1 p.m. MDT • Florida, Georgia, LSU, Minnesota, Stanford and Illinois.
Session 2, April 19, 7 p.m. MDT • Oklahoma, Alabama, UCLA, Michigan, Utah and Arkansas
Super Six, April 20, 5 p.m. MDT • Top three teams from each preliminary session.
Here is a look at the NCAA field, showing teams' regional score from Saturday, their regional qualifying score and their national qualifying score, which is a combination of the previous two scores that determines the seedings.
Team Regional Score RQS NQS
Florida 198.4 197.84 396.24
Oklahoma 197.375 197.57 394.945
Alabama 197.4 197.415 394.815
Georgia 197.425 197.26 394.685
LSU 197.275 197.18 394.455
UCLA 196.95 197.2 394.15
Michigan 196.725 197.325 394.05
Minnesota 197.1 196.615 393.715
Stanford 196.8 196.71 393.51
Utah 196.4 197.105 393.505
Arkansas 196.95 196.435 393.385
Illinois 196.025 196.21 392.235