The University of Utah Red Rocks are headed to the Super Six for a record 18th time after they placed second as part of a Pac-12 sweep of the first semifinal in the NCAA women’s gymnastics championship in Duluth, Georgia, on Friday.
The seventh-seeded Red Rocks performed one of their better meets of the season and their top score outside the Huntsman Center, finishing with a 197.20, behind fellow Pac-12 team UCLA, who scored a 197.400. Stanford, who went into the meet as the 10 seed, grabbed the final Super Six spot in the first semifinal with a 197.125.
As the fourth highest seed in the first session, behind UCLA (2nd seed), Oklahoma (3) and Nebraska (6), the Red Rocks had to compete at their best to place in the top 3 and advance to the finals. They managed to do just that, performing all 24 routines without a fall.
The Utes started out on floor, an event that saw only four routines scoring at 9.90 or higher in the session. Leadoff gymnast Becky Tutka scored a 9.80, Corrie Lothrop tied for fifth with a 9.875 and the remaining four Utes scored 9.85s. The Utes finished with a 49.275.
They then went to vault, where the Utes have had struggles hitting landings throughout the season, but the team performed above average in what was the best event score of the night of 49.525. Kailah Delaney took first place on the event with a 9.95 and Georgia Dabritz tied for second with a 9.925. Redshirt senior Kyndal Robarts, who has scored a 9.975 on the vault this season, struggled and scored only a 9.725.
Utah headed into the second half of the meet after their third-rotation bye in first place (98.80), but they faced the two most difficult events: bars and beam. On bars, the Utes saw scores between 9.80 and 9.875, finishing with a 49.225.
Beam started out well, with scores between 9.825 and 9.85 for the first four competitors, but Robarts struggled, earning a 9.450 and forcing Utah’s championship hopes to rest on Kassandra Lopez’ shoulders. She managed to stay on the beam, scoring a 9.80 and preventing the Red Rocks from counting a low score. The team finished with a 49.175 on the event.
But with a score of 197.20 and a bye in the final rotation, the Utes still had to wait anxiously on the sidelines to see whether they would be advancing to the Super Six for a record 12th time in a row.
Utah had already finished ahead of Nebraska (196.625) and LSU (196.550), but with Stanford and Oklahoma hot on their heels, the meet came down to the final competitors. Stanford was able to pull out the third place finish with their 197.125. Oklahoma’s 196.925 left them out of the running.
Stephanie McAllister finished in second in the all-around, scoring 49.450. Corrie Lothrop finished with a 49.425, putting her in a tie for third.
Utah, UCLA and Stanford will face off against a trio SEC teams on Saturday. Alabama (197.675), Florida (197.650) and Arkansas (197.150) advanced from the second semifinal on Friday afternoon. Delaney and Dabritz will compete in the individual event final for vault on Sunday.