No. 1 Red Rocks win back-and-forth battle with No. 4 Gym Dogs
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Friday night proved a dandy for the 14,926 Red Rocks' fans in attendance at the Huntsman Center, as No. 1 Utah and No. 4 Georgia shined. The seesaw event had Utah trailing by one-tenth heading into the final rotation, and that's where the Red Rocks kicked their top-ranked floor into high gear to best the Gym Dogs 197.15-196.95 and remain undefeated at home this season.
"Good meet, really good gymnastics," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden.
"I thought both teams did a really good job.
"Tonight was what we hoped it would be and what we really expected, and that was a meet that went down to the wire and the last routine or two. The judging was tight — they weren't giving away any scores tonight. I was really proud our team kept their composure and really did what we talked about doing."
Utah's 49.5 on the floor proved a season-best, highlighted by career-highs of 9.95 by both Corrie Lothrop and Stephanie McAllister to close out the event and put Utah ahead.
"They've (Lothrop and McAllister) really evolved as our leaders on the floor," said Marsden. "That began to happen last year. They both worked very hard in the off season and continued to improve and make upgrades."
It took both Lothrop and McAllister's scores to beat the Gym Dogs as they fought down to their last competitor on beam, Shayla Worley, who posted a 9.9.
The back and forth tenseness echoed throughout the night, with neither team ever leading by much. Utah fell behind after vault, which saw the first three gymnasts hop on their landings before freshman Georgia Dabritz posted a career-best 9.925.
Utah then grabbed the lead back on bars, where it made a change to the lineup. Hailee Hansen stepped in for Nansy Damianova and posted her best score on the event – 9.85 – to match Kassandra Lopez's opening mark and get the crowd on its feet for the local gymnast. Marsden said he left the decision up to bars coach Tom Farden, who felt Hansen was ready to go. The move was evidence of the depth Utah has boasted about all year, from the first to last gymnast in each lineup and into the exhibitions.
But Utah lost the lead on beam, where it has been ranked No. 1 the past two weeks. Its struggles came in the middle of the lineup after Mary Beth Lofgren had a balance check and Cortni Beers took some steps on her landing after a strong routine. Kyndal Roberts followed up the 9.625 and 9.775 scores with a 9.875 to set up Lothrop.
"Corrie made some upgrades to her beam on her dismount," said Marsden.
Lothrop hit for 9.9, which was also a career best, to put Utah back within striking distance heading into floor. When Ute fans heard the trailing score, they booed and then quickly cheered to get their team going.
"I don't remember the last time that I've felt that kind of atmosphere in the Huntsman," said McAllister. "Obviously we were having so much fun and into it. I can't even describe the fans. They were so into it and it made it that much easier to be in the game. I can't remember the last time I felt that atmosphere."
The adrenaline from the fans yielded itself nicely to floor, where Utah's lowest score ended up being a 9.825. Utah didn't have a fall on the night and kept all of its scores above 9.8, with the exception of the two beam marks. Lothrop won her second straight all-around title, edging McAllister 39.475-39.45.
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