Utah gymnastics: Individuals hope to salvage Utah's NCAA experience
Birmingham, Ala. • Utah's gymnasts admitted following their devastating failure to reach Saturday's Super Six finals that it would take a while to get over the disappointment.
But a few must put aside the hurt do their best to salvage the NCAAs for the Utes in the NCAA Individual Championships on Sunday here at the Birmingham Convention Complex.
Utah's Georgia Dabritz qualified on the vault with a 9.925 and Becky Tutka and Nansy Damianova made the cut for floor finals by scoring 9.925.
Each of the top four gymnasts on each event from Friday's sessions qualify for Sunday's finals, which start at 1 p.m. MDT and will be shown on ESPN3.
The Utes were hoping Dabritz would qualify on the uneven bars, where she has been one of the top-ranked gymnasts all year, but her 9.9 wasn't good enough to advance her.
On the vault, Utah's Tory Wilson and Kailah Delaney who were tied for second in the national rankings missed the cuts with 9.85 and 9.875, respectively.
That Damianova made the floor finals shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. She ranked No. 11 on the floor at the end of the season and has performed exceptionally well in the big meets.
Damianova won both the Pac-12 and regional vault title and finished the regular season with a 10.0 on the floor.
"I don't know if it is because she isn't in the all-around or what, but she doesn't get the recognition she deserves," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "But she has had an incredible season for us."
Damianova attributes her success to new training techniques and a better attitude.
"I wanted to enjoy my last year so I took some different approaches," she said. "I used to go home and I would train by myself. In the past I focused too much on running. This time I focused more on the basics of gymnastics and it helped a lot."
The floor exercise has always been a point of pride for Damianova too. She isn't the typical powerful gymnast in Utah's lineup but her routine is filled with more elegant lines. Her dance sets her off from the crowd, which could help in the individual contest.
"It is my favorite event," Damianova said. "All the other events are more technical and precise and floor doesn't stress me out. I can just go through my routine and enjoy performing for the judges."
Tutka has a solid chance, too, with her crowd-pleasing routine and also has a good reputation since she is a three-time All-American on the event.
"I am excited for her," Marsden said. "I thought she should have made it last year because she is such a perfumer and her tumbling is so strong so I'm thrilled she is in there."
Dabritz is a rather unlikely participant in the vault finals. She was expected to make the uneven bars event, where she has been ranked in the top three all season, but her 9.9 wasn't good enough.
The junior was more upset about the team's disappointing finish than anything else.
"It's still hard to think about it," she said of the individuals. "But you always want to go out and do your best."
Their best wasn't quite good enough in the team competition; perhaps the individual finals will be different.
NCAA gymnastics individual finals
P Sunday, 1 p.m. MDT
Live stream • ESPN3
More coverage online
• Florida and Oklahoma tie for the NCAA team championship.• Only a handful of Utah gymnasts can bear to watch the Super Six.
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