Gymnastics: Utah headed to Oklahoma for regionals; BYU, SUU also make postseason
Oklahoma is OK with Utah's gymnastics program.
It has to be, because that's where the Utes will begin the postseason.
The Red Rocks learned Monday that they will be the second seed, behind the hosting Sooners, for the NCAA Oklahoma Regional on Saturday, April 2.
Utah coach Greg Marsden had kind of been expecting to go to either Oregon State or Denver on Friday night, but the rankings got a bit of a shakeup in the final day of the regular season. Oregon State won Saturday's Pac-10 championships and moved from ranking fifth last week to No. 3 this week, while Oklahoma dropped from fourth to fifth and Stanford dropped from third to fourth.
That meant that the "S" curve that is used to determine who goes where would need a little tweaking. The S curve calls for teams ranked 1-12-13 to be grouped together in a regional, Nos. 2-11-14 together, Nos. 3-10-15, and so on for the first 18 teams. That is complicated by which teams are hosting, as they are sent to their own regionals, and that's what changed Utah's destination.
Utah is ranked seventh and should be sent to a regional with the No. 6 team, UCLA, but instead, the Bruins will go to the Athens (Ga.) regional with No. 8 Georgia and No. 18 LSU.
Marsden said that, after he saw the final regular-season results from all teams, he expected Oklahoma to be his team's assignment.
"I guess it's fine. It's what I expected after I saw the results from Saturday night," he said. "Once I saw how the rankings finished up, I didn't see how there was any other option other than Oklahoma."
Other teams in that region are a suddenly hot No. 17 Washington, which finished third at the Pac-10 meet, as well as No. 32 New Hampshire, No. 33 Missouri and No. 35 North Carolina.
"It's what I say every year," Marsden said, "but I think we're a good enough team that if we do our job, we should be fine. If we don't, then there's some dangerous teams there.
"Washington beat Stanford at Pac-10s Saturday, so they've finished the season now with a couple of 196 scores (two of their last three). They're obviously peaking at the right time, and I think you have to consider them a dangerous team."
Teams must finish either first or second in a regional to qualify for the April 15-17 NCAA championships at Cleveland.
Utah will open the competition on the balance beam.
Brigham Young, which finishes the regular season ranked 27th, will go to the Denver Regional as the sixth-seeded team, competing with No. 1-ranked Florida, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 13 Boise State, No. 19 Denver and No. 20 Arizona.
The Cougars won earlier this season at Arkansas, and the next week, Arkansas handed Florida its first loss.
BYU gets the preferred Olympic rotation, starting on vault.
Southern Utah, ranked 31st, will be sent as the fourth seed to the Corvallis Regional at Oregon State with the No. 3 Beavers, No. 10 Nebraska, No. 15 Iowa, No. 34 San Jose State and No. 36 Michigan State, the last team to qualify for the postseason. The T-Birds will open on bars.
Utah State did not qualify as a team but has five individuals vying for a chance to go to Cleveland. Paige Jones qualified to the regional on vault and floor, Nicole Simoneau on bars and beam, Rachel Vaske on bars, Lyndsie Boone on beam and Jacki Dillon on floor.
For the Utes, it's a 36th straight regional appearance, and they have won 26 of them. It was second the other nine and has qualified for all 35 national championships (including AIAW, prior to the NCAA) for which it's been eligible.
NCAA gymnastics regionals
Denver Regional — Denver University
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