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Red Rocks rock ASU; Marsden earns 1,000 career victory

TEMPE, Arizona (ABC 4 Sports) - Head Coach Greg Marsden becomes the first coach in Utah gymnastics history to tally 1,000 career victories.
TEMPE, Arizona (ABC 4 Sports) - Greg Marsden became the first 1,000-win coach in Utah gymnastics history and his No. 4-ranked Utes are off to a 6-0 start for the first time since their NCAA runner-up season in 2008. The Utes, who are now 3-0 in Pac-12 play, won the latest conference contest in style, soundly beating No. 19 Arizona State 197.200-194.900 in the Wells Fargo Arena.

Marsden, in his 39th year at Utah and the only coach in program history, earned win No. 1,000 in just 1,206 meets for a winning percentage of .829.

He acknowledged the feat after the meet, saying, “I feel it is a great accomplishment for the program and a tribute to our current and past teams and staff, but I’m glad it’s over. I didn’t want it (1,000 wins) to become a distraction. The team handled the task at hand very well.”

Some of his former All-America gymnasts in attendance for the win included Shelly Schaerrer, Suzanne Metz and Angie Leonard.

Milestone aside, Marsden was eager to talk about Utah’s effort on the balance beam, where the Utes scored a season-high 49.275 after counting a fall in two of the first three meets.

“I was especially proud of how we handled the balance beam after the first girl fell,” said Marsden, whose team hit 23-of-24 routines on the day. “We could have let it get away from us and we stayed focused instead.”

The meet was already well in hand heading into the balance beam, but certainly Utah responded well on its final event after first-time leadoff performer Breanna Hughes fell. It was the first fall of Hughes’ career; she was 33-of-33 on bars and beam heading into the routine. The next five Utes cleanly hit their routines and Corrie Lothrop won the event with a career-high 9.95 in her first time at the anchor position this season.

Lothrop was part of a Ute sweep in the event and all-around titles. Georgia Dabritz remained unbeaten on the uneven bars, moving to 4-0 on the season with a 9.925 and also won the floor exercise with a 9.95. Kailah Delaney (9.95) edged Tory Wilson (9.925) for the vault title and Wilson won her third all-around of the year with a 39.45.

Utah handled the bars well once again on the road on its first rotation, scoring a 49.225 to take an early lead over ASU (48.875 on vault). Dabritz, the 2013 NCAA runner-up on bars, earned her winning 9.925 score after 9.85s from Lothrop and Nansy Damianova.

In round two, Utah expanded its lead to 98.675-97.500 and showed why it is the nation’s best team on the vault. Especially impressive in the 49.45 set were flawless-looking vaults from Delaney (9.95) and Wilson (9.925).

Dabritz finished her night one rotation later by winning the floor with a 9.95. Wilson and Damianova both put up 9.875 scores and the Utes totaled a 49.250. Arizona State started strong on the beam, but its last two competitors fell, allowing Utah to add a point to its “halftime” lead and head into the balance beam with a big 147.925-145.800 advantage.

The coaches switched up the beam lineup, hoping to fix their falls on the event. Other than Hughes’ fall at the leadoff post, it worked well with the Utes posting a season-best 49.275.

Next up for Utah is a Friday, Feb. 7 home meet against Arizona. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:45 for a pre-meet celebration of Marsden’s 1,000th win. The meet will start at 7 p.m. and be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
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