Red Rocks fall short of Super Six

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (ABC 4 Sports) - The Utah gymnasts barely missed qualifying into the NCAA Super Six, dashing their hopes for another trophy in an otherwise spectacular season. The Pac-12 champion Utes finished fourth in their session and seventh overall, getting edged out for a Super Six berth by less than a tenth of a point to Nebraska.

Alabama and Florida tied for first in the evening semifinal with a 197.650, followed by Nebraska (197.100), Utah (197.025), UCLA (197.000) and Penn State (194.825). Advancing out of the afternoon session were Oklahoma (197.500), Georgia (197.300) and LSU (197.100). Rounding out the first session were Stanford (196.600), Michigan (196.425) and Illinois (195.800).

While the Utes improved two spots from a year ago, it was little consolation for a team aiming to win a national championship.

“It is so disappointing for our team,” said coach Greg Marsden. “I am heartbroken for them. They worked so hard and came so far. We looked so good all week, including the pre-meet warm-ups. But we were just a little bit off (in the meet) and there are just too many good teams to have an off night in this competition.”

After getting out of the gates slowly on bars and beam, Utah found itself in fifth place heading into its first bye. The Utes weren’t overly concerned, though, since they would finish the meet on their best two events. In fact, a 49.475 on floor—the second-best floor score of the night—temporarily shot them past Nebraska. But the Huskers won the rubber match, scoring a meet-high 49.450 on the beam while Utah scored a 49.30 on the vault. While it was the third-best vault score of the night, it was Utah’s worst vault score of the season.

“Despite the fact we had an off night, we came within less than a tenth of a point of advancing,” said Marsden. “You could have gone and found a tenth on almost any event for us.”

For the first time since the Super Six began in 1993, the Pac-12 will not be represented in team finals. The Utes fared the best of the three Pac-12 teams in the field, beating UCLA in the evening session and besting Stanford’s 196.60 score from the afternoon session.

Utah’s little mistakes here and there showed up in the final individual stats as well. Despite having a school-record nine All-Americans on the squad, just three will represent the Utes in Sunday’s event finals: Georgia Dabritz on the vault and Nansy Damianova and Becky Tutka on the floor. Dabritz tied for third on vault in the evening session with a 9.925 and Damianova and Tutka tied for fourth on floor, also with 9.925s.

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