The No. 4 Red Rocks (11-0, 6-0 Pac-12) put on a show for the beyond capacity crowd at the Huntsman Center for the final home meet of the year, defeating No. 5 Michigan (8-2, 5-0 Big Ten), winning 198.250-197.675. Both squads posted their highest scores of the season, and Utah's 198.250 is the third highest score in school history. The crowd of 16,019 (1,019 over capacity, and more wanted in) is the largest crowd ever to watch a college gymnastics meet, breaking Utah's record of 15,558 vs. Florida in 2011. It marked the last regular season home meet for Utah's four first-team All-American seniors Georgia Dabritz, Corrie Lothrop, Becky Tutka and Tory Wilson. All of this provided the perfect backdrop for the CBS National News crew that was in town to do a story on Utah's home gymnastics atmosphere.
The crowd was not only large but loud. Dabritz scored her second 10.0 on beam this season (fifth career), and the response from the crowd was deafening. All of the seniors received huge applauses for their routines, with each of the four seniors receiving standing ovations following their floor routines (the final event of the night).
"When the crowd was standing for us, it was overwhelming. I did better controlling my emotions during the pre-meet presentation than I thought I would, but we all got emotional after our floor routines" said Lothrop, to the nods of her fellow seniors.
All of the exposure for the gymnastics program lately from national news agencies (the New York Times was on hand two weeks ago for the meet against Stanford) is confirm what fans already know: Utah has the best home atmosphere in college gymnastics.
"It's been an exciting few weeks for us with the New York Times here two meets ago and the great article (by John Branch) that led to CBS calling and coming here today and tonight," said co-head coach Greg Marsden. "They are so surprised and wonder why they didn't hear about our fans, this atmosphere and the great gymnastics before. It has kind of been our little secret and now the whole world is finding out."
Highly touted gymnasts often come to Utah for the home meet experience. The fans are raucous, and they know their gymnastics, giving good applauses to opposing gymnasts that perform excellent routines, not just to the hometown Red Rocks.
"It's an honor (competing in front of the home crowd)," said Wilson. "The sheer magnitude of it has left us speechless."
There was not a single fall in the meet, with each squad combining to go 48-of-48, including a whopping 26 scores of 9.90 or better. Despite Michigan having three gymnasts ranked in the top 10 for the all-around, it was the Utah seniors who took the honors in the meet. Dabritz (39.70), Wilson (39.65) and Lothrop (39.575) finish in the top three spots for the all-around. In addition to the all-around, Dabritz won bars (10.0) and tied for first on floor with Wilson (9.95). Wilson also tied for first on vault with Kari Lee and Kailah Delaney (9.925). The freshman Lee won the beam with a near-perfect 9.975.
The most surprising event for Utah was beam, an event they struggled with at Oregon State, with both Wilson and Lee falling in Corvallis. For the final home meet, Utah scored a 49.50 on beam.
"To go 49.50 on the balance beam--that is big for us," said Marsden. "That puts beam on par with the other three events."
Utah added a 49.550 in vault and bars, and finished the night with a 49.650 on floor. Utah needed every point they could get as Michigan posted their highest score of the season, topping their previous best of a 197.300 against Nebraska.
Utah closes the regular season at No. 10 Georgia on Saturday, Mar. 14 at 4 p.m. ET (2 p.m. MT). The meet will have a live stream curtesy of ESPN3. The Red Rocks (11-0) have a chance to finish the regular season undefeated for only the second time in school history.