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Utah gymnastics: No easy way to decide qualifiers for NCAA individuals

Published April 21, 2014 7:34 am

Gymnastics notes • Some top athletes got left out of NCAA's individual finals.
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Birmingham, Ala. • Having standouts such as Utah's Georgia Dabritz, Georgia's Chelsea Davis and Florida's Bridget Sloan absent from the individual championships due to low scores during Friday's preliminary round may seem unfair, but coaches can't think of a better way of determining the field, they say.

Currently, the top four gymnasts, including ties, from each session on Friday make up the field for the individual contest.

Sloan had a rare fall and didn't qualify on the event in which she is considered one of the best in the world, at any level, while Dabritz and Davis just didn't score high enough on the uneven bars, where both have been ranked in the top three all year.

There has been some talk of using the regular season average as part of the qualifying procedure, but that isn't a perfect solution either, said Florida coach Rhonda Faehn.

"We had a gymnast who was hurt all last year until the last two meets of the season and she was able to qualify, but wouldn't have if we had gone by the regular season," she said. "I can see both sides, but there isn't a perfect way."

Utah coach Megan Marsden would have preferred to have Dabritz in the event finals, but said she had a hard time using the regular season as a qualifying element when teams have to qualify from the regional meets alone.

"It's difficult," she said. "But at least we are taking the top gymnasts from each session and not like it used to be when it was just the top scores. That was really unfair to the gymnasts in the earlier session."

Flying solo

The issue of what to do with individual competitors in the NCAAs continues to be discussed as well. Individual all-arounders with high regional scores whose teams don't qualify advance to the NCAAs on their own.

However, rarely do individuals do well enough to win a national title. Arkansas' Katherine Grable achieved the rare feat on Sunday when she won the floor title.

The last to do so was North Carolina's Courtney Bumpers, who won the 2005 floor title.

Eliminating individuals has been broached, but Faehn said she hesitates to back such a move.

"It's always a high-tension discussion," she said. "But it does bring a lot of exposure to the smaller schools."

Of note

Alabama's Kim Jacob has competed 11 times over the three days, the most of any gymnast. … LSU's Rheagan Courville, who tied for the vault title on Sunday, also tied for the vault title last year, scoring a 9.925 to share the crown with Alabama's Diandra Milliner.