The No. 5 Utah Red Rocks will compete today, Friday Apr. 15, in their 41st-straight gymnastics championship (and 35th NCAA Championship) in the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The 12 teams are broken up into two sessions, with the top three teams from each session advancing to the Super Six tomorrow, Saturday Apr. 16 at 8 p.m. CT (7 p.m. MT). The Red Rocks are competing in the evening semifinal at 7 p.m. CT (6 p.m. MT) with Oklahoma, Alabama, UCLA, Nebraska and California. LSU, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Stanford and Minnesota will compete in the afternoon semifinal (1 p.m. CT/noon MT). Live television coverage of the Apr. 15 semifinal meets and the Apr. 16 Super Six will be provided by ESPNU. The Utah Athletics Twitter account (@utahathletics) will provide updates on the meet as well.
After the strong performance at the Salt Lake Regional, senior gymnasts Breanna Hughes and Kailah Delaney both said the team is confident heading into the NCAA Championship. The Red Rocks are the only program to qualify for all 35 NCAA Championships to date.
There will be a format change at nationals this year. Per the Utah press release, "For the first time at a women's gymnastics championship, there will not be a separate individual event competition. Instead, individual champions, along with the winning all-arounder, will be crowned after the completion of both semifinal sessions on Friday. To help prevent multiple ties, there will be six judges on every event at all sessions. The high and low scores will be dropped and the middle scores will be averaged for the final score." Both Delaney and Hughes said they are not worried about the individual accolades and instead are focused on team success.
Since 1999, seeding has been selected by the NCAA by a blind draw (prior to 1999, it was based on seed). For their semifinal meet, the Red Rocks drew the rare seed of the "home" competition rotation: vault, bars, beam and floor. This is the first time Utah has gotten this rotation since 1993 for the semifinal meet. Utah has either started (5) or finished (7) the meet on beam a total of 12 times. In the other nine meets, Utah has started on bars. Co-head coach Megan Marsden said the team tries not to think about their draw much because they have to compete in all four events regardless of the order, as do the other five teams.