“Vault and floor have been our strongest events all year and helped separate us tonight,” said Utah coach Greg Marsden after the Utes scored a 49.475 on the vault and a 49.325 on the floor. “Overall, it was a much better effort tonight than we’ve had on the road and a step forward, but we can still do better on bars and beam.”
Utah started the meet on the balance beam, and as has become typical in recent meets, the front half of the beam lineup was rock solid with Becky Tutka leading off with a 9.80, followed by a 9.825 by Breanna Hughes and a career-tying 9.875 by Tory Wilson. The back half didn’t fare as well. After a wobbly 9.675 by Kassandra Lopez and a fall from Georgia Dabritz, Mary Beth Lofgren bailed Utah out of a bad spot when she scored a 9.875. Utah’s 49.050 on the beam, its best score on beam since the second meet of the year, just bettered BYU’s 49.000 on the vault. North Carolina State struggled on bars and lagged back with a 47.900.
“I was really proud of our first three people on beam, who took a big step forward,” said Marsden. “Then Kassandra got tentative and Georgia tried too hard and fell. I was proud of Mary Beth’s performance. That is her role to have that kind of routine no matter what happens before her.”
The Utes went to floor next and ripped off a 49.325 to build a little cushion against the Cougars, after two events 98.375-98.025. Tutka’s 9.925 and Lia Del Priore’s 9.90 led the scoring.
The Utes took the meet over on the third rotation, scoring a 49.475 on vault even while BYU was encountering problems on the beam and finishing a point back at 48.450. Utah’s vaulters were solid from top to bottom, but the final three really put on a show, with Dabritz and Nansy Damianova scoring 9.925s and mega-vaulter Wilson getting a 9.95 on another showstopper. It was the eighth victory in as many tries for the nation’s top-ranked vaulter.
It was one of three victories on the night for the fast-charging Wilson, who also tied for first on the balance beam Mary Beth Lofgren, each with a 9.875, and won the all-around (her second of the season) with a 39.450. Utah took first place on every event as Dabritz (9.90) won her sixth bar title in eight meets and Tutka (9.925) picked up her third floor win of the season.
Heading into the final rotation, Utah held a 147.850-146.475 advantage over the Cougars, with NC State a distant third at 145.675.
The Utes polished things off on the bars, scoring a 49.275, led by Dabritz’ 9.90 for her sixth victory of the season on her favorite event. Hughes tied her career high with a 9.85 and Damianova added a 9.875.
“Obviously we do a better job finishing on bars than starting on them,” laughed Marsden, whose team has gotten off to a poor start on bars in two of its first three road meets.
Utah will close its regular season against SEC powerhouses Georgia (Mar. 9 in Athens, Ga.) and Florida (Mar. 16 in Salt Lake City).