The No. 3 Utah Red Rocks will return to the Super Six for the first time since 2012 after posting a 197.475, the best score ever for the Red Rocks in an NCAA Championships. They tied two time defending National Champion Florida for first place in their session. It is the first time since 2007 that the Red Rocks have won their semifinal session, and it marks the 19th appearance in the Super Six for Utah.
Advancing to tomorrow night's Super Six with Utah and Florida was Stanford (197.175). Rounding out the hotly-contested session were Michigan (197.025), Georgia (196.600) and UCLA (196.400). The advancing trio will meet Oklahoma (197.400), Alabama (197.100), and Auburn (197.075) for the national championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT. The meet will be live streamed on ESPN3.
Utah's improbable climb from the 12th and final seed into nationals to a tie for first in its semifinal, had an interesting beginning. On Utah's first event, senior All-American Georgia Dabritz fell as Utah's No. 2 competitor on the balance beam. It knocked the sensational senior out of the all-around competition, but it did not knock her, or the Red Rocks, out of the meet. After her teammates rallied for a strong finish on beam, Dabritz rallied for a spectacular finish to the meet.
"[The meet] didn't start out the way I wanted or planned," said Dabritz, who won the AAI Award two days earlier as the nation's top senior gymnast. "But I had to turn my head quickly for the team. One of our goals was to make it back into the Super Six and we gave it our all."
On Utah's next event, Dabritz tied for second on floor with a 9.925, followed by a 9.90 vault. In Utah's final routine of the day, she nailed a perfect 10.0 on the bars. Her incredible bar routine epitomized the team's effort on its final and deciding event. Needing a 49.05 to tie Michigan for the third and final spot, the nation's No. 1 ranked bar team exploded for a 49.50, its best score of the day, to pass Stanford and move into a tie with Florida.
Building momentum for Dabritz's perfect 10.0, Utah's first ever perfect score at an NCAA Championship, was a season-best 9.85 score by Breanna Hughes, a 9.85 by Tiffani Lewis, a 9.825 by Baely Rowe and back-to-back 9.90s by Kassandra Lopez and Corrie Lothrop to help Utah to their 49.50 on bars.
"On the first event, Georgia had the mishap, but I told her to come roaring back and she did," said Utah coach Megan Marsden. When Tory [Wilson] got hurt [at the Pac-12 Championships], Georgia took on a more vocal leadership role. Sometimes when you are concentrating on the team doing well, you can forget to take care of yourself."
Wilson, the 2014 Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year and Utah's top-ranked all-arounder at No. 9 in the nation, rolled around with her teammates in a wheelchair, necessitated by surgeries to both feet.
"This team was very determined, especially after our performance at regionals. We were fortunate just to slide in (to nationals), coming in with the 12th-best score of the 12 teams. Without Tory, our team went through some emotions and had a tough time getting back up for regionals. We bounced back after regionals in practice and I'm proud of our athletes for coming back from a difficult situation," said Marsden.
Qualifying into event finals on Sunday were Dabritz on bars and floor, and Lee on vault and floor. Dabritz finished first in the afternoon semi on bars and tied for second on floor, while Lee tied for first on vault and fourth on floor.
Dabritz and Lee are automatic first-team All-Americans on the events in which they qualified for finals. Dabritz, who also won second-team honors on vault, finishes her career as a 16-time All-American. Making the All-America second team (top eight finish) were Partyka on vault (joining Dabritz), Lopez and Lothrop on bars and Lothrop in the all-around.
Lothrop finishes her career as a nine-time All-American and Lopez's award is the first for the junior.
The Red Rocks will compete for an 11th national championship in the finals tomorrow at 5 p.m. MT, which will be live streamed on ESPN3.