LOS ANGELES — A remarkable comeback by the No. 5-ranked Ute gymnasts fell five one hundredths of a point short in a 196.075-196.025 loss to top-ranked UCLA before a sold-out Wooden Center crowd. Utah's recovery on the final three events after a disastrous start on bars had coach Greg Marsden crowing about his team's character.
"We started out nervous on the bars and that's a finesse event where you really need to be prepared and calm," said Marsden. "We made some goofy mistakes on bars that we haven't seen in training, but we settled down after that and did really well on the other three events. When you spot a full point on the first event and have the meet come down to the last routine-that shows the character of our team."
Freshman Georgia Dabrtiz picked up Utah's first victory of the season, scoring a 9.90 on floor and senior Stephanie McAllister added another win one event later on the beam, where she scored a 9.85. McAllister placed second in the all-around with a 39.325 while Corrie Lothrop placed third with a 39..275.
Utah's rocky start on the uneven bars included a fall from Dabritz and big breaks by Cortni Beers. Both would later make up for those mistakes on other events, but McAllister (9.825), Lothrop (9.80) and freshman Kassandra Lopez (9.75) were the only Utes who looked comfortable on the apparatus. After one event, Utah trailed by over a point, 49.550-48.450.
Utah regrouped on the vault, scoring a 49.300, but couldn't gain measurable ground on UCLA with the Bruins scoring a 49.275 on bars. Freshman Kailah Delaney, in her first college routine, threw a beautiful 9.90 vault, while Dabritz and Kyndal Robarts both put up 9.875 scores. It marked Robarts' first routine since she suffered a season-ending knee injury during pre-meet warm-ups on vault in the third meet of the 2011 season.
The Utes climbed back into the meet on the third rotation when they put together a spectacular floor set even while the Bruins were running into trouble on the beam. "I told the team that I'd take that floor set at the end of the season," said Marsden about his team's showing on the mat. Dabritz showed big skills in a 9.90 routine, while Lothrop and McAllister both received 9.875 scores. The Utes gained nearly a point on the rotation, scoring a 49.275 to UCLA's 48.375. Entering the last event, Utah trailed by less than two tenths, 147.200-147.025.
Utah won its third of the four rotations of the final event night, scoring a 49.00 on beam to UCLA's 48.875 on floor, but it wasn't quite enough to erase the Bruins' lead. The only flaw was a fall by first-team balance beam All-American Mary Beth Lofgren, who had hit 41-of-41 routines leading into the event (40-of-40 as a freshman and bars in this meet). Lothrop's 9.80 led things off and Robarts finished the set with a 9.80.