The No. 3 Red Rocks are headed to their 40th straight national championship after a second place finish at the Berkeley Regionals, but season-low scores on bars and beam (their first two events) nearly cost the Red Rocks. Georgia won the meet with a 197.025, followed by Utah (196.575), California (196.000), Boise State (195.375), Utah State (195.150) and Brigham Young (194.150). Georgia is now 2-0 against Utah this season.
"I am disappointed that we dug ourselves in such a hole after the first two events--really disappointed," said co-head coach Greg Marsden. "It felt too much like prelims at nationals last year. I was proud they didn't give up and I'm happy that we're going to the championships. I hope they view it as an opportunity to show what they are capable of."
The Red Rocks opened the meet with season lows on each of their first two events: bars (49.075) and beam (48.625). During their bye after bars and beam, Marsden told the team to, "Come out and fight like the team I know you are."
And fight they did; the Red Rocks posted the highest scores of the meet in floor (49.375) and vault (49.500) to barely hold off host team Cal and qualify for nationals.
Senior captains Georgia Dabritz and Corrie Lothrop were the two constants in the meet for the Red Rocks. Dabritz, the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year, posted an all-around score of 39.75 thanks to 9.95s on vault, bars and floor, a 9.90 on beam. Lothrop posted an all-around score of 39.45, including a career-best tying 9.9 on vault.
Despite the poor effort from the team on the first two events, Marsden did have positive things to say about several individual gymnasts.
"Georgia was absolutely brilliant, which he has been the entire season, and Corrie also did a nice job. We expect that from our seniors and they delivered. I was really proud of Tiffani Lewis. She handled [replacing injured senior Tory Wilson] brilliantly," said Marsden. "I was also really happy with Maddy Stover's beam routine."
Utah came into regionals as the nation's top team on bars, but other than Dabritz, who scored a 9.95, they did not look like it. Both Breanna Hughes (9.625) and Kassandra Lopez (9.65) over-swung the top bar on their final handstands and were forced to implement their "plan B" leading into their dismounts.
The situation became dire for Utah on the next event. A great start on the beam (with Stover posting a 9.875 and Dabritz a 9.9 to start) quickly went sour, when back-to-back falls by Kailah Delaney and Kari Lee sent Utah to its second season low of the night, a 48.625. After Delaney and Lee fell, Baely Rowe scored a 9.70 and Lothrop finished strong with a 9.875.
On their last event, the Utes literally and figuratively vaulted past Cal and stole the second ticket to nationals. Lothrop led off with a career-tying 9.90, which was matched by Lee and Delaney, and Dabritz finished the 49.500 set with a 9.95. Cal needed a 49.275 on their last event to tie but fell short with a 48.700.
Advancing from the other regionals to the NCAA Championships in Ft. Worth, Texas, Apr. 17-19 are region winners LSU, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and UCLA, and region runners-up Nebraska, Auburn, Stanford, Oregon State and Michigan.