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Final opportunity to win

Published April 26, 2008 3:33 am

Three Utes will compete for individual titles
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

ATHENS, Ga. - Utah senior Ashley Postell failed to win the all-around title Thursday by the distance of a short hop on her vault landing, but the most decorated gymnast in NCAA history can still leave the national championships with a national title, or two, or three.

Postell and teammate Kristina Baskett qualified on three events for tonight's individual championships.

Postell qualified on everything except the vault and Baskett made the cut on everything except the balance beam.

To qualify for tonight, gymnasts had to place in the top four on each event from their session, including ties. The top four finishers are first-team All-Americans and the next four are second-team All-Americans.

Postell leaves the Utah program with a NCAA record 20 All-American awards.

Both she and Baskett already have won national titles, with Baskett tying Georgia's Courtney Kupets for the 2006 uneven bars title and Postell winning the 2007 balance beam championship.

Baskett, a three-time All-American on the bars, was ecstatic to qualify on more than that event. "Hopefully it shows I've made a lot of improvement this year and I've gotten better with each year," she said.

The surprise entry for the Utes is Kyndal Robarts, who scored a 9.9 on the vault to qualify.

"It was good, I guess. I was just shocked," Robarts said of her vault. Her participation in tonight's finals puts her in a bit of a dilemma since she hasn't been working a second vault and gymnasts must perform two different vaults tonight.

The one who was prepared for two was Postell, who finished the season ranked No. 1 in the event. However, she took a step on her landing and scored just 9.875, which dropped her below the cutoff and dashed her hopes of winning the all-around title.

She isn't the only strong vaulter to miss event finals, as the highest-ranked vaulter to qualify was Alabama's fifth-ranked Kayla Hoffman.

Postell is also ranked No. 1 on the balance beam, which is considered her signature event after she won the 2002 world balance beam title. Postell drew favorable positions in the random draw, competing sixth out of 11 on the balance beam and as the last out of 14 on the floor.

Baskett will compete first out of the 11 gymnasts on vault and Robarts will compete third. There were 18 gymnasts who qualified on the uneven bars and Postell will compete ninth and Baskett will compete 11th.

Baskett's strongest event is the bars, even though she says it is one of the hardest for her in which to compete. She is ranked third, behind Georgia's Courtney Kupets, who isn't competing because of injury, and UCLA's Anna Li. Li got a good draw competing 16th.

lwodraska@sltrib.com