Utes gymnastics team crushes Arizona to stay unbeaten

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - A pre-meet ceremony honoring Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden for becoming the first 1,000 win coach in college gymnastics history had members of his team tearing up. The rest of the night was nothing but smiles as the Utes turned in their best meet of the season and crushed No. 13 Arizona 197.825-194.425.

"Seeing Greg being honored was really emotional for us," said Georgia Dabritz, who continued her torrid win streak by capturing bars and floor with 9.975s on both. "I just felt so honored to be a part of this program after that." The three-event star has now won 11 of her 15 events this season.

The No. 4-ranked Utes stayed unbeaten with the victory, which was televised live on the Pac-12 Networks, improving to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Pac-12 Conference. Arizona dropped to 3-3, 1-2 Pac-12.

Dabritz scored a 9.925 on vault during the first rotation, but the gold on that event went to Tory Wilson, who landed a 9.975--the first of three near-perfect scores on the night for the Utes. Wilson also won the all-around--her fourth in five meets--with a season-best 39.60.

The Utes were so dialed in that they actually took advantage of a fall on both beam and floor. "We've talked as a team about not worrying about what happens in front or behind (a routine)," said Marsden. "You never like to have a fall, but when we have, we have risen to the occasion. We sure did that tonight on beam and floor."

On floor, Utah's final event of the night, Mary Beth Lofgren--fresh off a victory on the balance beam--fell from the leadoff position. Rather than get tentative, Utah's next five competitors attacked the event to the delight of the 13,012 in attendance and the result was a season-best 49.725. In addition to Dabritz' 9.975, Wilson, Becky Tutka and Nansy Damianova all pitched in 9.95 routines.

On the first rotation, Wilson (9.975), Dabritz (9.925) and a career-high 9.90 from Becky Tutka on the vault helped the Utes to a lead they never relinquished. Tutka also scored a season high on floor (9.95) to cap a night dedicated to her by the Utah marketing department, which promoted the meet as Becky Bow night. Replicas of the bow Tutka wears in her hair were passed out to little girls in the stands and Tutka was thrilled.

"It turns out I'm only the second gymnast on the team who has ever had a night named after her--the other was `Queenie' (former Ute Nicolle Ford for her senior night in 2007)--and it was really an honor," said Tutka.

The Utes expanded their lead on the second rotation, where Dabritz improved to 5-0 on the bars with her 9.975 routine. Her routine was immediately preceded by a season-high 9.95 from Damianova. Utah led Arizona 98.950-97.850 at the halfway point.

On beam, Lofgren's career-high 9.925 highlighted a 49.150 set, but just as satisfying was freshman Baely Rowe's first shot at the critical leadoff position. Rowe scored a 9.775 to set the tone for a team effort that was marred only by the first fall of Kailah Delaney's career from the No. 5 position. Corrie Lothrop erased Delaney's fall from the scoring column by scoring a 9.825 from her anchor post. Arizona also scored a 49.150, theirs on floor, and after three events, Utah led the Wildcats 148.100-147.000.

Said Rowe after reporters asked her in the post-meet interview room if she was scared going first in the beam lineup, the rookie said, "It's daring to be up on a four-inch (surface) and I'm not afraid of it, I love it."

Added Marsden, "We've watched Baely in practice and in meets and we feel she's a cool character. I think we might have found ourselves a beam leadoff."

The Utes have an unusually long break before returning to action, taking the weekend off and competing in a rare Monday competition at Stanford on Monday, Feb. 17. The meet will start at 3 p.m. MT and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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