Go Utes!
Go Utes!
Ute Gymnasts Off To NCAA Regionals This Week

Melissa Vituj will lead the Utes into regionals on Saturday.

Melissa Vituj will lead the Utes into regionals on Saturday.

March 29, 2004


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The No. 5 ranked Utah gymnastics team (13-1) will go to Tucson, Ariz., for NCAA regional competition on Saturday, April 3 ... By seed, the six teams to qualify for the South Central Regional are: No. 5 Utah, No. 8 Florida, No. 18 Arizona, No. 25 Arkansas, Illinois and Illinois-Chicago ... The top two finishers will qualify for the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles, April 15-17 ... Utah hopes to continue its NCAA Championships qualifying streak: Utah is the only program in the nation to qualify for all 22 NCAA Championships and for the last 28 national championships including the AIAW years ... Utah placed sixth at the 2003 NCAA Championships after going into regionals as a No. 8 seed.


Utah's only regular season loss was at Michigan on Feb. 14 ... The 2004 Utes own five of the 10 best team scores in school history: 198.600 vs. BYU on Mar. 19 (first), 198.050 vs. Utah State on Feb. 27 (third), 197.950 at Washington on Mar. 5 (fourth), 197.675 vs. OSU on Mar. 12 (ninth) and 197.650 vs. Iowa on Feb. 6 (10th) ... Utah was ranked in the top four for 10 of 12 weeks this season, including two weeks at No. 1 after beating top-ranked UCLA in Los Angeles ... Utah placed second in the 2004 national attendance standings. The Utes, who drew the largest crowd to watch a gymnastics meet in the nation this year on Mar. 19 (13,325 vs. BYU), averaged 10,125 fans to its six home meets. Alabama averaged 10,274 fans per home meet.


Live commentary on the Ute routines, as well as team scores after each rotation of the South Central Regional, will be posted on the Internet at www.UtahUtes.com. Arizona will not be posting live stats of the event.


This marks the 29th-consecutive regional appearance for the Utes, who have qualified for regionals and nationals every year since becoming a varsity program back in the 1975-76 season ... Utah has won 21 regional titles (18 of 22 NCAA titles) and finished second in its region the other seven times (4 NCAA) ... Utah belongs to the North Central region but has been sent out of region three of the six years since the current format was adopted. Utah has participated in three North Central regionals (2000, 2001, 2003), two West Regionals (1999, 2002) and is readying for the 2004 South Central regional... Utah has won four straight NCAA regional titles (three North Central and one West regional crown) ... Utah's rotation order-per a random draw by the NCAA office-is beam, bye, floor, vault, bye, bars.


Two Ute individuals will go into postseason competition ranked in the nation's top-10 all-arounders. Senior Melissa Vituj is tied for fourth with a 39.660 RQS and junior Annabeth Eberle is sixth (39.650 RQS). Vituj is also ranked No. 5 on floor (9.960), No. 10 on beam (9.930) and No. 21 on vault (9.920). Eberle finished the regular season ranked No. 2 on vault (9.980). Freshman Rachel Tidd is tied for fourth on vault (9.955) and tied for 14th on bars (9.920). As a team, Utah is ranked No. 2 on vault (49.555) and bars (49.465), No. 5 on floor (49.545) and No. 7 on beam (49.325).


Four Utes made it through the regular season without falling: Annabeth Eberle (34-34), Kristen Riffanacht (26-26), Natalie Nicoloff (12-12) and Gritt Hofmann (8-8) ... Eberle leads Utah with 20 victories, followed closely by Melissa Vituj with 17 ... Four Utes received perfect 10.0s this year with Eberle and Vituj leading the way with three 10.0s apiece. All three by Eberle came on vault-two on the road. Vituj earned two 10.0s on floor and one on beam. Veronique Leclerc scored a 10.0 on floor and Rachel Tidd had a 10.0 on vault ... Vituj is the only Ute to go all-around in every meet this season ... Likely all-arounders at regionals are Vituj (39.875 best), Eberle (39.775) and Tidd (39.675).


Utah scored a school-record in its final regular season meet of the season to beat rival Brigham Young 198.600-197.800 on Mar. 19 in Salt Lake City. Utah also set school records on vault (49.775) and for having the top three all-around scores in a single meet: Melissa Vituj (39.800), Annabeth Eberle (39.775) and Rachel Tidd (39.675). Vituj won the all-around (39.800) and floor (10.0) and tied for first on beam (9.95). Eberle and Tidd tied for first on vault with 10.0 scores and Eberle tied for first on bars with a 9.975. A crowd of 13,325 turned out for the meet-marking the biggest crowd to attend a gymnastics meet anywhere in the nation this season.


The final national rankings, based on regional qualifying score, follow: 1. UCLA 198.055, 2. Stanford 197.645, 3. Alabama 197.625, 4. Georgia 197.620, 5. Utah 197.575, 6. Brigham Young 197.525, 7. Louisiana State 197.400, 8. Florida 197.355, 9. Iowa State 197.210, 10. Oregon State 197.165, 11. Washington 197.010, 12. North Carolina 196.990, 13. Nebraska 196.960, 14. Denver 196.895, 15. Oklahoma 196.865, 16. Missouri 196.850, 17. Arizona State 196.830, 18. Arizona 196.785, 19. Michigan 196.750, 20. Iowa 196.73, 21. West Virginia 196.685, 22. North Carolina State 196.515, 23. Auburn 196.435, 24. Kent State 196.360, 25. Arkansas 196.235.

UTAH COACH Greg Marsden

Greg Marsden, the most successful coach in collegiate gymnastics history, is in his 29th year at Utah. He is college gymnastics' only 700 win coach (793-131-5). In regular season competition, Marsden is 398-57-2. He has spent his entire career at Utah and has won 10 national championships, double that of any other coach. Four of those titles came in the '90s (1990, '92, '94, '95). Fifteen of his teams have placed in the top-three at the national championships, most recently in 2000 (second). Marsden is a seven-time National Coach of the Year recipient.


"We have some injuries I'm concerned about right now. Veronique Leclerc has pulled a hamstring and Stephanie Lim pulled a calf muscle. Neither has been able to train and I can't plan on either of them competing, with the exception of Veronique on bars. The nature of those injuries is they typically take some time to heal. "It's a little frustrating that at a time we were trying to get healthy, instead we're dealing with a couple more issues that may affect our ability to put the best lineup possible on the floor at regionals. "We look forward to competing in Tucson. We've been there many times and typically compete pretty well in that arena. I think the location will allow many of our fans to come and support us, which is always helpful. Other than the new injuries, training has gone well. The team seems to be confident and moving in the right direction. We realize that both Florida and Arizona are very talented and that we need to be at our best to move on to the NCAA Championships."



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