Tom Smart, Deseret News
ATHENS, Ga. — For the first time since winning the 1995 NCAA Championship here, the University of Utah women's gymnastics team beat Georgia on Saturday at Stegemen Coliseum.
In a meet that came down to the final routine, Utah stormed back from a .300 deficit to win 195.900-195.800. Georgia had not lost a regular-season home meet since 2005, with 33 wins and a tie (with Florida in 2007) prior to Utah's narrow victory. It was Utah's first regular-season win in Athens since 1991 and just its third in 13 trips here, including national championship appearances.
Utah, which upset defending NCAA champion UCLA last week in Salt Lake City, improves to 2-0. Georgia drops to 3-1.
The first half of the meet was virtually deadlocked, with Georgia leading 98.275-98.175 after vault and bars were completed. Utah's Stephanie McAllister (9.875) on bars and Kyndal Robarts (9.95) on vault tied career highs, with Robarts winning her second vault title of the season. Robarts scored a 9.925 in Utah's win over UCLA last week.
Utah took its first lead midway through the third rotation, only to quickly hand it back after trouble struck on the final two floor routines. Robarts fell from the fifth position on her first tumbling pass, then anchor Corrie Lothrop stumbled at the very end of her routine. Lothrop did manage to stay up and in bounds, and though the Utes fell behind 147.200-146.900 with the mistakes, Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden credited Lothrop for keeping the meet in reach.
"Obviously, our last two floor people put us in a bit of a hole, but I give 'Co-lo' (Lothrop) credit for hanging in there," Marsden said. "She didn't give up on that last pass, didn't go out of bounds or sit down."
Robarts got redemption for her mistake one event later, when as Utah's final competitor, she scored a 9.775 in a routine that also required a "save."
"I could feel a little crooked in the air (on the first flight series), so I anticipated how to land on the beam and adjusted. I know how to stay on," laughed Robarts, a 2010 first-team balance beam All-American.
She was one of several heroes for the Utes on the final event after Cortni Beers fell as the third competitor. Freshmen Lothrop (9.80) and Mary Beth Lofgren (9.85) both turned in the best beam routines of their short careers just in front of Robarts, giving the senior a chance to win the meet. For Lofgren, the routine was good for a first-place tie.
Georgia assisted as well, counting a 9.575 and a 9.60 on the floor while Utah was taking control of the beam.
McAllister, who won the all-around last week against UCLA with a 39.175, nearly picked up another victory. She scored a 39.300 to finish just behind Georgia's Cassidy McComb (39.350).
"I was really nervous before the meet," confessed McAllister. "Greg (Marsden) had to tell us to relax, breathe and do one thing at a time."
As for Marsden, he's just glad to end the long dry spell at Georgia. Looking over his shoulder, he exclaimed, "The monkey's gone!"
Utah competes at Nebraska next Saturday in Lincoln before returning for a four-week homestand that starts with a Jan. 28 meet against Stanford.
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