Kailah Delaney tied for first on vault with Tory Wilson with a 9.95.
Feb. 22, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY-- -
Capitalizing on their first meet of the season without a fall, the No. 4 ranked Ute gymnasts cruised past No. 11 Oregon State 197.575-196.450 to improve to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-12. A late-arriving crowd accustomed to 7 p.m. start times swelled to 14,693 in time to see Utah conquer the balance beam for the first time since the season opener.
Not only was a full house on hand for the balance beam on the third rotation of the night, so was co-head coach Greg Marsden for the first time in decades.
"Being out there for beam for the first time in 30 years, I saw some things we might be able to implement to take it another step," said the sport's winningest coach. "One thing we talked about (after Utah's falls on beam at Stanford last week) was for all of us--me included--not to approach that event any differently than the others. We took a step in the right direction tonight."
The biggest step was taken by Georgia Dabritz, who scored a season-high 9.875 on the beam in just her second beam routine of the year. Her big beam helped Dabritz win the all-around with a 39.625 for her first all-around win this season and the fourth of her career. Tory Wilson placed second with a 39.500.
"It felt great to be doing the all-around again and show people I am capable of that," said Dabritz, who placed seventh in the all-around at last year's NCAA Championships to earn first-team All-America recognition. "It was a great confidence boost having all six of us hit beam."
One event prior, Dabritz stayed unbeaten on the uneven bars, where she is ranked No. 1 in the nation, scoring a 9.95 to win the event and move to 7-0 on the season. Utah won every event title with Kailah Delaney and Tory Wilson tying for first on vault (9.95), Mary Beth Lofgren winning beam (9.925) and Nansy Damianova taking the floor (9.90).
While Utah's performance on the beam grabbed most of the attention, the Utes were at their best on the vault, where they scored a season-high 49.625, and on bars (49.425).
"Vault is definitely our best event," said Wilson after Utah posted five 9.90 or better scores. "We've figured out how to use the power we all have and still find the landings."
Becky Tutka and Lofgren helped set up the huge score, nailing back-to-back career-tying 9.90 vaults as Utah's first two competitors of the night. After a 9.80 by Damianova, Utah finished with a bang, getting a 9.95 from Delaney and Wilson and a 9.925 from Dabritz. After one event, Utah already had a big lead over the Beavers, 49.625-49.150.
It was more of the same in round two when Damianova (9.925) and Dabritz (9.95) capped off an impressive 49.425 bar set for the Utes. Heading into their most perilous event, the balance beam, Utah had a 99.050-98.425 cushion.
With both head coaches in the vicinity of the beam--Megan Marsden coaching it and Greg Marsden observing nearby--all six Utes stayed aboard. Lofgren rebounded from last week's fall at Stanford by winning the event with a 9.925 and both Dabritz and Wilson scored a 9.875. After three events, Utah led the Beavers 148.225-147.575.
Utah finished the night with a decent floor set, highlighted by Damianova's winning 9.90 routine and a career-high 9.875 from Delaney. Tutka and Dabritz also scored 9.875s in the 49.350 set.
"The judges did a nice job," said Greg Marsden. "We stepped out of some landings, which we haven't been doing in recent meets and weren't as sharp as we've been and they took deductions."
Utah is home again next Friday in another early starting meet, hosting Washington at 6 p.m. The meet will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.