Red Rocks receive No. 5 seed, afternoon session

Published: Monday, April 12 2010 11:16 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — On Saturday night, Utah's gymnastics team found out that it can, indeed, be good, that it can live up to its glorious past as it had strong showings in all four events at its own regional championships and easily qualified for the April 22-24 2010 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships.

On Monday, there was more good news. The NCAA made the Utes — who went into last week as the nation's No. 10-ranked team — the fifth seed for the national championships at the University of Florida.

By virtue of its seed, Utah gets the afternoon session in the team preliminaries on Thursday, April 22, and that's music to Utah's ears.

Teams in the afternoon session are No. 1 seed UCLA, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 9 LSU and No. 12 Nebraska. Host and second-seeded Florida competes in the evening session with No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 10 Missouri and No. 11 Michigan. The top three finishers from each session advance to Friday night's Super Six team championships.

"I like the afternoon because, if we qualify on to finals, it gives you more time to recover," said Ute coach Greg Marsden. "You can get back and do your treatments, go out with the team, have a relaxed dinner and get to bed early. If you're in the evening session, by the time you get out of there, it's 10 o'clock or after, and you've got to get your kids fed and get treatments done, and they're so wound up it's hard to settle down and get to sleep, and you've got a much shorter recovery time."

Co-coach Megan Marsden adds that it's good, too, because the host is always in the evening session, when the crowd is loud and partisan. The afternoon session is more relaxed.

"And it's the same rotation," pointed out Greg Marsden, "that worked for us at regionals, so we can't be too upset. I'd much rather end on beam than start on beam."

Utah worried a bit about starting on beam in the regional because beam had been a problem spot the second half of the season. But the Utes came through with an outstanding beam set Saturday, scoring 49.35, the highest event score of the regional for them, and that brought confidence.

"I hope it gives them as a group some confidence that it is OK to approach that event with aggressiveness," said Megan Marsden, the beam coach. "I think some of them were a little too careful (earlier in the season), too 'don't-overdo-things.' They just tried to get up there and carefully do beam, and you can't do that."

Last week, Greg Marsden met with his team and learned some of the trepidations — mainly living up to the Utes' history. He told them to be aggressive and unafraid to fail.

"We were competing tight for much of the season, and especially toward the end of the season, and I think once we got the elephant out of the room, once we talked about what the concern is, we quit being afraid of failing, then I think it allowed us to compete to be successful, not to compete to avoid failure," he said.

"That was our beam team. That's what we're capable of, and it showed," said senior Annie DiLuzio. "That's how we know to work beam. We put it together."

DiLuzio had a strong outing, starting with 9.90 on floor followed by 9.925 on vault, the first two events that Utah did Saturday — and the first two they'll do at Florida. For her, the rotation was good. "I loved it. We came out with a lot of energy on floor and then moved on to vault and then a little relaxer after that (bye). I think it was great for us. Ending on beam the way we did was a good confidence builder."

That rotation set up DiLuzio to be a leader, said Megan Marsden. "She was able to just nail those and be our big scorer. I think it helped send a message of confidence."

The whole night changed Utah's attitude about the postseason. Megan Marsden noted that there were a number of former Ute stars in the audience Saturday, and some went to dinner with the team after the meet. It was a proud moment for current team members to be able to "stand tall" in front of the alums.

"When they rise to the occasion in front of those people, I think it's very gratifying to this current team — to feel like they lived up to the tradition of this program. Last week when Greg asked what was worrying them, one of the said living up to the expectations of what this program is about.

"I know they wear that very heavy, but I don't think they come to this program blind. Some of them come for that reason, and with it comes quite a bit of pressure."

But now that pressure is off. Utah qualified for the 35th straight year to the national championships — the only team to have ever done so — and now it can just go to Gainesville, Fla., and do what its thing.

"I just want them to go out and compete aggressively, and hopefully we do the best we can do and let the outcome take care of itself and feel good about ourselves if we just go compete well," said Greg Marsden.

All-around individual qualifiers

Brandi Personett, Penn State

Kelley Hennigan, Denver

Taylor Seaman, North Carolina State

Rebecca Simbhudas, Iowa

Elise Wheeler, Southern Utah

Sarah Schmidt, Illinois

Brianna Artemev, Denver

Sharaya Musser, Penn State

Nicole Curler, Michigan State

NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships

at Florida April 22-24

Seed/team regional score RQS NQS

1. UCLA 197.825 197.060 394.885

2. Florida 197.675 197.050 394.725

3. Alabama 197.400 197.250 394.650

4. Oklahoma 197.250 197.170 394.420

5. Utah196.900 196.485 393.385

6. Stanford 196.775 196.600 393.375

7. Arkansas 196.675 196.510 393.185

8. Oregon State 196.275 196.545 392.820

9. LSU 196.400 196.415 392.815

10. Missouri 196.500 196.085 392.585

11. Michigan 195.800 196.600 392.400

12. Nebraska 195.875 196.355 392.230

NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships

at Florida April 22-24

Seed/team regional score RQS NQS

1. UCLA 197.825 197.060 394.885

2. Florida 197.675 197.050 394.725

3. Alabama 197.400 197.250 394.650

4. Oklahoma 197.250 197.170 394.420

5. Utah196.900 196.485 393.385

6. Stanford 196.775 196.600 393.375

7. Arkansas 196.675 196.510 393.185

8. Oregon State 196.275 196.545 392.820

9. LSU 196.400 196.415 392.815

10. Missouri 196.500 196.085 392.585

11. Michigan 195.800 196.600 392.400

12. Nebraska 195.875 196.355 392.230Ticket information

Tickets for the 2010 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships April 22-24 at the University of Florida are available for purchase through Thursday at 6 p.m. for $55 per all-session pass. Seat locations will be determined by annual giving level to the Crimson Club and not on a first-come first-served basis. Tickets will only be available for will-call pick-up in Gainesville, Fla. To order, go here:*

https://tkt.xosn.com/tickets/TicketHome.dbml?SPID=8487&DB_OEM_ID=1400&_MODE_=PERFORMERCATEGORY&SALE_TKT_PERFORMER_ID=40767&SALE_TKT_SALE_CATEGORIES_ID=34702All-around

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