GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After two days of tense competition trying to win a team title at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, the athletes put aside their rivalries and cheered each other on in the individual finals Saturday.
For three University of Utah gymnasts, it was a chance to perform one last time in their college careers — and most likely their gymnastics careers.
Although none of them won an individual title, senior Jamie Deetscreek got a chance to redeem her poor balance beam performance from Friday night's Super Six finals and finish her career on a positive note.
Deetscreek scored a 9.8375, which was only good enough for seventh place out of 10 competitors on the event and well below Louisiana State University's Susan Jackson's winning score of 9.9625. But she managed to stay on the beam this time — unlike her routine the day before.
"I'm glad to end my career with that beam routine instead of the other one," Deetscreek said.
Daria Bijak was the first to perform for the Utes, competing on the uneven bars. A slip-up on the bars and big step on her landing resulted in her finishing in last place in the event final with a 9.8, well behind Stanford's Carly Janinga's top score of 9.9375.
Like the other three Utes who competed Saturday, Bijak said the individual finals did not mean much compared to the more important team championship.
The team's oldest gymnast at age 24, Bijak said her body is ready for her gymnastics career to be over.
"I'm kind of glad the limit is four years because I would probably go 10 more years until I really can't do it anymore," Bijak said. "It's good for my body (to quit competing) because this whole week I have felt it."
The other senior to compete Saturday was Annie DiLuzio on the floor exercise. DiLuzio also finished in seventh on her event with a 9.875, while UCLA's Brittani McCullough won the floor with a 9.9375.
DiLuzio didn't get close to repeating the success she had her freshman year, when she was the NCAA runner-up on vault and Utah finished second as a team, but she was still happy with how her career ended.
"It doesn't seem real that it's over at all, but it was a great way to go out," DiLuzio said.
The only non-senior to compete Saturday had the best finish for the Utes.1 comment on this story
Kyndal Robarts, who posted 9.9s on both her beam routines the first two rounds, scored a 9.8625 for a fifth-place result on the event. There were no Utes competing on the vault, which was won by UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa with a 9.925.
It was not much of a surprise to Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden that the four Utes competing did not win event titles. He knew heading into the championships that he didn't have a gymnast who was likely to claim an individual title as Kristina Baskett and Ashley Postell did from recent years' teams.
Instead, Utah was more focused on performing well as a unit.
"As far as winning an event, that wasn't the expectation here," Marsden said. "For us, all year has been about doing the best we can do and being happy with that."