Utah gymnastics team still sees room for improvement
If the season had a cruise control button, Utah's gymnastics team would hit it.
With almost two weeks between their win at the Pac-12 Championships and the NCAA regional in Fayetteville, Ark., the fifth-ranked Utes are keeping things light in the gym this week.
The last thing the Utes want to do is be burned out or tired for the critical NCAA regional competition, so the coaches are holding more conditioning sessions and fewer all-out practice ones.
"It's more about quality versus quantity," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "We have been backing off lately. But we are doing more pressure sets and that kind of thing."
The Utes earned their second-highest score of the season, 197.925, in the Pac-12 win. The gymnasts think they can improve on that mark and are using most of their practice time to polish their routines.
"We are still working on stuff and going over videos, looking to see where we can grab another half of a tenth or quarter of a tenth of a point," Marsden said. "We aren't feeling like we are all the way there yet, and we want to push that score a bit."
The Utes scored a 49.6 on the uneven bars and a 49.65 on the floor at the Pac-12 meet, but Marsden believes those areas can be improved along with the vault landings and balance beam performances. The Utes scored 49.4 on the vault at the Pac-12s and 49.275 on the balance beam.
"There are always landings to work on," Marsden said. "But you can work on amplitude on leaps, handstands, all those kinds of things. We want to eliminate as many areas of deduction as possible."
As a program that draws more than 14,000 fans to home meets, the Utes are accustomed to getting attention, but winning the Pac-12 title has brought even more recognition to the group.
"It has been crazy cool," senior Hailee Hansen said. "We are hearing from the university president and people in classes; it has been a lot of fun."
Hansen, the vocal team leader, doesn't believe all the excitement of winning the Pac-12 title will knock the Utes off their game or make them overly confident.
"This group of girls is very humble," she said. "Sometimes in the past, that hasn't been a good thing, but this year we have just the right amount of confidence, but we know things won't come to us easily. We are going to be in a good state of mind."
Utah junior Tory Wilson was named to the All-Pac-12 gymnastics team Wednesday as an all-around performer while Georgia Dabrtiz (vault, uneven bars, floor), Kailah Delaney (vault) and Nansy Damianova (uneven bars, floor) all made first team on respective events. Corrie Lothrop made second team on uneven bars; Becky Tutka was second team on floor.
NCAA regional championships
P In Fayetteville, Ark.
Who • No. 5 Utah, No. 8 UCLA, No. 17 Arkansas, No. 24 Arizona St., Utah St., UC Davis
When • April 5, 3 p.m. MDT