During Utah’s practice round for the Pac-12 Championships, Utah gymnast Corrie Lothrop went through her floor exercise routine looking every bit like a gymnast ready to compete.
In a pleasant surprise for herself and the Utes, Lothrop indeed was able to dazzle fans on the floor again.
Vitals » 5-foot-1, senior
From » Danvers, Mass.
Of note » Was granted an extra year of eligibility after tearing her Achilles tendon last year…Scored 9.9 on the uneven bars and balance beam at the Pac-12 Championships…Has earned career highs of 9.925 on the uneven bars and 9.95 on the balance beam this season…Was the 2012 Pac-12 all-around champion.
NCAA Gymnastics RegionalsSaturday, 3 p.m.
At Little Rock, Arkansas
Teams » Utah, UCLA, Arkansas, Arizona State, Utah State, UC-Davis.
Lothrop, who missed most of the 2013 season after tearing her Achilles tendon, wasn’t expected to compete on the floor this season as she continued to recover from the injury.
However, she has recovered well enough that she has been working through full floor routines and she is pushing to break into the floor lineup.
"It feels really good," she said with a huge smile. "I am still taking care of it and making sure my body can hold up, but so far so good. It’s awesome to be back out there."
Lothrop’s availability presents the Utes with an interesting decision as they prepare for Saturday’s NCAA Regional Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Do the Utes take a chance and go with Lothrop in the hopes her presence could boost the score a bit or do they stick with the tried and true lineup?
Right now Utah coach Greg Marsden is going with the latter, noting the Utes finished the season ranked No. 1 on the floor.
"It’s a hard thing because the other people in there have done a good job," he said. "Even though she is back, she hasn’t had the experience of doing floor in a long time. At this point, I just don’t think we should use her."
Lothrop is going to do her best to make the coaches rethink that decision by continuing to work on floor in practice. Before her injury, Lothrop was known as one of Utah’s strongest floor performers. She won the Pac-12 all-around title in 2012 and was a second-team All-American on the floor.
She has watered down her routine some, but still has plenty of difficulty.
"The first time I did my full floor, I surprised myself," she said. "I did it easily. I am hoping I can keep proving I am ready and I can do it if they ask me to."
For now, Lothrop is scheduled to compete on the balance beam and uneven bars, events in which she scored 9.9s at the Pac-12 meet.
Just having her available on floor is comfort to the Utes, particularly after Kailah Delaney had some inflammation in her knee before the Pac-12 meet. The injury turned out to be minor and Delaney remains available as an alternate along with Haley Lange, but the Utes still like the idea of having Lothrop available too.
"The great thing is even if she doesn’t go this year, she’ll be ready for vault and floor and compete in the all-around for us next year," Marsden said. "That is really going to help us."
Having Lothrop return to the floor lineup next season will help the Utes minimize the effects of losing three strong floor performers in seniors Mary Beth Lofgren, Lia Del Priore and Nansy Damianova.
The Utes are hopeful Kassandra Lopez, who tore her Achilles tendon earlier this year, will be available as well.
If she is, Utah’s floor lineup could be every bit as good as the current version.
"We have some holes to fill, but getting Kass and Corrie back would take a lot of pressure off our freshmen class," Marsden said. "You always want your freshmen to come in hungry and compete, but you never know how they are going to transition and we know what Corrie and Kass can do."
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