Utah’s gymnastics team lost its last regular season meet and finished second at the Pac-12 Championships, but the sixth-ranked Utes don’t sound like a team on a losing streak. To the contrary, the Utes might have more confidence in their gymnastics right now than they have at any point in the season.
The Utes hope to translate that confidence into an NCAA-worthy performance this weekend at the NCAA regionals in Baton Rouge, La.
Utah competes against Minnesota, BYU and Arkansas in its afternoon session and if it is one of the top two teams, it will advance to Saturday’s final. The top two teams from that competition advance to the NCAA Championships April 19-20 in Ft. Worth.
Utah’s regional will be televised by SECN+ and carried on ESPN 700 radio.
Utah is confident it can advance based on its recent performances since it seems it has worked out its problems on the balance beam and had a solid effort at the Pac-12 Championships.
The Utes finished second to UCLA 198.4-198.025, but the Bruins and Utes put up the highest scores in the country out of the conference championships, a fact that coach Megan Marsden made sure her team knew.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” she said. “I feel like they are in a great spot.”
The Utes might be headed to SEC territory, but they still like their chances against the field in part because they are familiar with their opponents, having beaten BYU in the regular season and losing a close one to LSU 197.25-197.075.
“LSU is going to have the advantage because it is their hometown,” senior Kari Lee said. “But we want to see what it is like to go down there and compete.”
The Utes would love to win the region outright, but Marsden is reminding the team all they have to do is be one of the top two teams to advance.
“Our region is not one of the most stacked regionals,” she said. “I feel like if we go and do what we’ve been doing every week we will be fine. This is one of the most consistent teams I’ve ever coached and I feel like if we do our job we can advance.”
The Utes have been solid on their weakest event, the balance beam, for several meets now. Utah didn’t totally shine on the event at Pac-12s, scoring a 49.3 thanks to several balance checks, but Marsden was elated the younger gymnasts in the lineup held their own.
That bodes well for regionals, she believes.
“I’m excited because of the way they competed,” she said. “At this point in the season we start talking more and more about what is going on in their head and all the mental tools to handle pressure. We will continue to implement those, but I like what we are doing.”
Competing in Baton Rouge could be challenge given the loud pro-LSU crowd, but the Utes are looking forward to it, junior MyKayla Skinner said.
“We wanted to go someplace different and we are excited,” she said. “They are going to have nice equipment and it will be fun, so we are excited for it.”
NCAA GYMNASTICS REGIONALS
(Top 25 Rankings and Regional Qualifying Scores in parenthesis)
The top two teams from Thursday will compete Friday, with the top two teams advancing to the NCAA Championships
Baton Rouge, LA.
George Washington def. Lindenwood
Session 1, 1 p.m. MT
No. 6 Utah (197.535)
No. 11 Minnesota (196.885)
No. 17 BYU (196.57)
No. 20 Arkansas (196.38)
Session 2, 6 p.m. MT
No. 3 LSU (197.81)
No. 14 Auburn (196.695)
No. 21 Arizona State (196.32)
N.C. State (195.715) vs. New Hampshire (195.68)
Session 1, Noon MT
No. 8 Georgia (197.315)
No. 9 Kentucky (196.085)
No. 19 Missouri (196.385)
No. 22 Iowa State (196.08)
Session 2, 5 p.m. MT
No. 1 Oklahoma (198.115)
No. 16 California (196.625)
N.C. State/New Hampshire winner
Iowa (195.705) vs. Arizona (195.70)
Session 1, 3 p.m. MT
No. 5 Denver (197.545)
No. 12 Boise State (196.725)
No. 18 Washington (196.505)
No. 24 Southern Utah (196.045)
Session 2, 8 p.m. MT
No. 4 Florida (197.76)
No. 13 Oregon State (196.625)
No. 25 Stanford (195.995)
Illinois (195.805) vs. Central Michigan (195.735)
Session 1, Noon MT
No. 7 Michigan (197.32)
No. 10 Alabama (196.99)
No. 23 Penn State (196.07)
Ohio State (195.99)
Session 2, 5 p.m. MT
No. 2 UCLA (198.1)
No. 15 Nebraska (196.65)
West Virginia (195.845)
Illinois/Central Michigan winner