Georgia Dabritz might be one of the best collegiate gymnasts in the country, but even a gymnast of her caliber doesn’t get an automatic pass when it comes to receiving spots in the lineups.
If Dabritz was in the balance beam lineup, she could have a legitimate shot at being Utah’s first all-around winner since Theresa Kulikowski claimed the award in 1999.
» 5-foot-1, junior, from Newburyport, Mass.
Of note » Five-time All-American. … Placed seventh in the all-around at the 2013 NCAA Championships. … three-time regional champion (bars in 2012 and 2013, vault in 2013). … Career high of 39.7 in the all-around against Florida last year ranks as eighth best score in school history. … 30 career victories. … Named Pac-12 Specialist of the Week after scoring a 9.9 on the vault, 9.95 on the uneven bars and 9.875 on the floor in the season opener.
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However, inconsistency on the event has prevented her from cracking the lineup. In the words of beam coach Megan Marsden, Dabritz isn’t just going to be thrown a bone and placed in the event so she can compete in the all-around.
She has to earn it — a challenge that makes Dabritz smile.
"I totally think it’s a fair thing," she said. "I know my track record and I just don’t want to be thrown in there. If I work hard, I’ll get in there. If I don’t and I can’t do it, then that is the right thing for the team."
Dabritz’s issues with the balance beam are more mental than physical, making her inconsistencies frustrating for her as well as the team.
"She is either a 9.9 or a 8.9," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "When she hits, she is as good as anybody in the country, but she has to be more consistent."
Dabritz, who has always struggled with balance beam, had to be in the lineup last year because the Utes didn’t have any other options. She started the season well, hitting her first two routines for a 9.875 and 9.9, then a fall at Arizona sent her tumbling, physically and mentally.
Out of the 12 times she competed on the event, she finished the season with five scores of 9.4 or lower.
Dabritz worked hard in the offseason with a sport psychologist and believes she can handle the pressure — as well as her own mistakes — better this year.
"I am super-excited to get back out there," she said. "I’ve been working on everything, but I want to contribute on beam."
With Kassandra Lopez now out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, the Utes need someone to replace Lopez in the lineup. Dabritz will get a chance, as will freshman Baely Rowe and others.
With her capability of scoring big, Dabritz would be a logical choice, as long as she can hit. Marsden believes Dabritz can succeed because of her work ethic.
"I always tell them it’s easy to go do the good events well, the challenge is facing your demons and making the best of it," he said.
For Dabritz, overcoming her balance beam demons are some of the few challenges she has remaining.
The five-time All-American and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year has plenty of difficulty in her routines. Now it’s just a matter of her being able to perform them as close to perfect as possible.
She came close to doing so in the opener, scoring a 9.9 on the vault, 9.95 on the uneven bars and 9.875 on the floor.
If anything, the danger for her is to not get bored with the routines, which is why she and her coaches continue to fiddle with the routines, tweaking a pass here, adding an element there, all in the name of keeping her engaged.
"I’m not nearly as nervous as I used to be out there," she said. "I’m comfortable, but I still think there is a lot I can do."
All that remains for her now is to get that balance beam under control.
"I want to earn my spot back," she said.
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