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Gymnastics: Utah-Georgia rivalry continues, barely

Published April 16, 2009 10:51 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While Utah has the motivation of being given a second chance tonight, Georgia has the motivation to win for coach Suzanne Yoculan , who is retiring.

In reminiscing about her career, Yoculan remembered first introducing herself to Utah coach Greg Marsden by telling him she was going to beat him. Now many years and championships later, college gymnastics' winningest coaches are going at it one last time.

"It's pretty ironic, 26 years later, we're still No. 1 and No. 2," she said.

A win tonight would give Georgia 10 national titles, tying the Utes for the most ever by a school. It also would make Georgia the first team to win five straight NCAA titles since Utah did so (1982-1986).

With Utah and Georgia hogging most of the storylines here, Yoculan did her best to remind everyone it wasn't a "Georgia-Utah meet," and that others could be in the mix for the national title.

"It's all about the fight, and every team out there is going to be fighting," she said.

Utah doesn't need any reminders, not after what happened to the Utes on the balance beam Thursday.

Individuals for Saturday

Kristina Baskett qualified on everything except floor in Saturday's individual competition. The only other Utah gymnast to qualify for Saturday was Daria Bijak on the floor. She had the high score of 9.9 in Thursday's evening session. SUU's Elise Wheeler qualified on the uneven bars and balance beam. Wheeler finished with a 39.325 in the all-around.

Streak ends

Jamie Deetscreek 's fall off the balance beam ended the school record streak for consecutively made routines at 64. Deetscreek entered the NCAA competition tied with Suzanne Metz (1994-95) with 63 made.

She earned a 9.85 on the bars to break the tie.

Deetscreek's last fall was on Feb. 16, 2008 at Washington when she fell off the beam. She had made 49 routines in a row this season and was threatening Metz's single-season record of 56 set in 1995.

Afternoon recap

Penn State and Stanford were both ahead of LSU and Florida early in Thursday's afternoon competition, but the Tigers finished strong on floor (49.2) and vault (49.45) to overtake their competitors, while Florida did the same with strong showings on the bars (49.15) and beam (49.275).

LSU was the fourth seed and Florida was the fifth, but the Gators in particular weren't thought of as a threat to qualify after suffering four season-ending injuries.

"It's unbelievable how they came back to fight," Florida coach Rhonda Faehn .

Shire shines

Former Utah gymnast Sarah Shire , who transferred to Missouri two seasons ago, qualified for Saturday's vault finals when she scored a 9.9 Thursday.

Shire said she has had more fun competing at Missouri than anywhere else and that transferring closer to her home was the best thing for her.

"I've never felt part of a team more than now in my life," she said.

Shire finished with a 39.2 in the all-around, which included a 9.825 on the bars, 9.775 on the balance beam and 9.7 on the floor.

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