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Utes get unexpected regional destination
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

NCAA Regional

Saturday, April 8

At Michigan, 4 p.m. MST

The second-ranked Utes were so certain they were headed to Arkansas for the NCAA Gymnastics Regionals on April 8, coach Greg Marsden had some flights held in advance of Monday's announcement.

Scratch those plans.

Utah, the top seed out of the North Central Region, was sent to Ann Arbor, Mich., instead. The Utes will compete against Michigan, which is tied with UCLA for ninth in the final national poll, No. 14 Auburn, New Hampshire, Pittsburgh and Rutgers.

No. 24 Brigham Young will compete in the Ames, Iowa, regional - against No. 4 Iowa

State, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 15 Arizona, No. 19 Denver and No. 21 Minnesota.

The top two teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championships on April 20-22 in Corvallis, Ore.

"It feels good for the postseason to finally be here," junior Nicolle Ford said. "We've all been anxious for this part of the season to get here and we're excited, but we're a bit worn down, too. You can tell it's the end of the season."

Utah defeated Michigan 196.4-196.1 in Ann Arbor on Feb. 11 and hasn't competed against any of the other teams in its regional.

"As long as we go and do our job, we should be fine," Marsden said. "We're familiar with the arena and the equipment, so that should help."

In a random selection, Utah and the rest of the top seeds will compete in the rotation of floor, vault, bye, bars, beam and bye.

Michigan and the other No. 2 seeds start on vault. Marsden isn't worried the unfamiliar rotation will cause his team any trouble.

"It's not a big deal," he said. "We have two weeks of advance notice, so we should be able to handle it."

Several years ago, the regional competition was a mere formality, as the traditional powers, including Utah, had little trouble advancing to the NCAAs. But the regional competition has gotten stronger recently, with Alabama and Georgia both having bad meets on regional night and nearly missing the cut.

"That's the scary thing about regionals, all it takes is one bad meet," Marsden said. "I don't even like to talk about it. There's going to come a time when one of us doesn't get away with it."

Last year, Georgia had to count three falls on the balance beam at regionals, and if it weren't for a Denver collapse, would have stayed home during the NCAA Championships.

"For years, the top teams looked at regionals almost as an inconvenience," Georgia coach Suzannne Yoculan said. "But some of the rule changes and the parity have changed that."

BYU's region looks like one of the most difficult ones, with several

ranked teams vying for the two spots. The other interesting region is Stanford's, where the No. 8 Cardinal, which won the Pac-10 championship Saturday, will compete against No. 5 Alabama, No. 16 Oregon State, Boise State, Sacramento State and San Jose State.

Seventh-ranked LSU will compete against No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 16 Penn State, No. 20 Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Top-ranked Georgia plays host to No. 12 Nebraska, No. 13 Missouri, No. 22 West Virginia, North Carolina and North Carolina State.

Arkansas, ranked No. 18, competes at home against No. 3 Florida, No. 9 UCLA, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Southeast Missouri State. Florida might be the favorite in the region, but UCLA is coming on strong - finishing second to Stanford 197.1-196.8 at the conference championships.

Rankings

1. Georgia 197.305

2. Utah 196.705

3. Florida 196.570

4. Iowa State 196.540

5. Alabama 196.460

6. Oklahoma 196.335

7. LSU 196.330

8. Stanford 196.290

9t. UCLA 196.230

9t. Michigan 196.230

11. Arizona St. 196.120

12. Nebraska 196.035

13. Missouri 195.790

14. Auburn 195.695

15. Arizona 195.615

16t. Oregon St. 195.530

16t. Penn St. 195.530

18. Arkansas 195.290

19. Denver 195.275

20. Kentucky 195.225

21. Minnesota 194.815

22. W. Virginia 194.700

23. N. Carolina 194.690

24. BYU 194.450

25. SUU 194.410

Gymnastics
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