Utah gymnastics: Utes leave NCAAs empty-handed
Birmingham, Ala. • Utah's gymnastics team left the NCAA Championships not only discouraged but empty-handed as well, as the Utes failed to snag any of the individual titles up for grabs on Sunday at the Birmingham Convention Complex.
Utah's Georgia Dabritz finished ninth out of 12 competitors on the vault with a 9.8667, Becky Tutka finished 11th on the floor with a 9.85 and senior Nansy Damianova finished 13th on the floor with a 9.7375.
All three had nice routines, but hops on landings cost them higher placings.
Minor mistakes that led to big deductions seemed to be the theme of the weekend for the fifth-ranked Utes, who failed to make the Super Six for the second year in a row.
"Nansy just tried too hard," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "We've worked so hard with her to not do that but it's her last routine, what can you say?"
The vault title was shared by Arkansas' Katherine Grable and LSU's Rheagan Courville, who scored 9.975 each.
Florida's Bridget Sloan, the defending balance beam and all-around champion who had a fall off the balance beam in Friday's preliminaries, came back and won the uneven bars title with a 9.9375.
Oklahoma's Taylor Spears won the balance beam with a 9.925, and Arkansas' Katherine Grable won the floor with a 9.9625.
Dabritz took a risk and went with a 11/2 vault rather than the full. It paid off for her in height, but she was unable to stick it and scored 9.8667 to finish tied for eighth with Michigan's Sachi Sugiyama.
"That was the only thing with it," she said of the vault. "But I wanted to do it. I knew it had more risk."
Dabritz acknowledged Utah's crowd after competed.
"It felt good to be out here again and this was my last chance to compete this year," Dabritz said. "It's nice to have them here."
Tutka's floor routine was solid until the third pass, which she landed a little low. She scored 9.85.
"It wasn't perfect," she said. "It's hard for me to be perfect, but a lot of gymnasts are out here."
Damianova admitted she was trying too hard as well, especially on her third pass, which she had to step out of as she landed.
"It just wasn't a good routine," she said. "My legs just didn't have it. I guess I am getting old."
Sunday's event finals marked the end of a good year that ended in disappointing fashion.
After a strong regular season and championships earned in the Pac-12 and regional meets, the Utes thought they could contend for the national title.
Not even getting a chance to do so was hard to take. Given the choice to attend the Super Six session, only a few gymnasts showed up to watch Florida and Oklahoma tie for the title. Most chose to stay away.
Megan Marsden said she can't remember a loss that has affected the coaches as badly as this one.
"I'm sure there probably was one, but I can't remember it," she said. "The really hard thing for us coaches is this group did everything we asked them to do, everything we told them to do to have a chance to win, and to not even compete wrecked us."
Dabritz said the team was still coming to grips with the disappointment.
"We still had a good season, no one can take that away from us, but it's going to take a while," she said.
NCAA individual winners
Vault • Katherine Grable (Arkansas) and Rheagan Courville (LSU) 9.975
Uneven bars • Bridget Sloan (Florida) 9.9375
Balance beam • Taylor Spears (Oklahoma) 9.925
Floor • Katherine Grable (Arkansas) 9.9625