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Utah Utes gymnastics: Deetscreek approaching perfection

Junior gymnast has hit every routine so far for the Red Rocks

By Linda Hamilton

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, April 13 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

If junior Jamie Deetscreek can make it through bars — Utah's first event in Thursday's team preliminaries at the 2009 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships in Lincoln, Neb. — without a fall, she will break one of the oldest school records and give herself a chance at another U. mark.

Suzanne Metz completed her Ute career in 1995 having gone 63 straight routines without a fall.

At last weekend's NCAA West Regional, Deetscreek went 4-for-4 to match Metz's 63. Last year, 20-time All-American Ashley Postell got to 49 straight before falling.

Should Deetscreek be able to go 4-for-4 in the preliminaries Thursday, and then match it in the Friday-night Super Six national championship — if the Utes do qualify for the finals — she would match another of Metz's marks, an NCAA-record 56-for-56 in a single season. Deetscreek would have to qualify for at least one event final next Saturday — and hit it — to potentially break Metz's single-season mark.

"Obviously, I'm trying not to think about it because it is going to make me more nervous. I'm trying to do my normal meet and not focus on any records," said Deetscreek, whose gymnastics have taken an incredible turn since the 2008 NCAAs at Georgia.

She only cracked the lineup on beam last April. But an offseason of dedication produced such remarkable results that she was the talk of the team in the preseason. She kept at it and has been a most solid all-arounder in every meet this season.

Metz's mark kind of sneaked up on Deetscreek, who has hit all 48 routines in 2009. "I didn't know about the record. I just knew that I'd, like, made all my routines the whole season. It's cool, but I'm trying not to think about it that much," she said.

She was successful in concentrating on just her routines at the regional. "I really didn't think about it at all. I just was focused on the meet and put it completely out of my head, so it was fine," she said, hoping to do the same in the coming week.

Her success has coach Greg Marsden feeling better about himself.

"I feel vindicated in terms of why we went after her and signed her," he said. "This is who I recruited. This was more what I expected when I recruited Jamie, and I know she's much happier this year and feels good about the amount of work that she put in in the offseason to give herself this opportunity."

Deetscreek, from Hatboro, Pa., was a two-time Junior Olympic all-around and beam champion prior to signing with Utah, but, "She wasn't in as good a shape her freshman year," Marsden said.

Deetscreek wasn't in bad shape, just not in prime gymnastics shape. "She was a freshman. She was burnt out," Marsden said. "That's not uncommon. Even Missy Marlowe and Ashley Postell, they did an adequate job their freshman year, but they got better as they got things figured out."

Deetscreek would like to have been better as a freshman and sophomore, "But it's kind of a cool journey that I went through," she said. "I just feel like I'm more proud of myself for what I've come through. I just think the journey has been really cool to experience."

She says that seeing Utah's big crowds helped get her going again.

"It's a really scary thing as a freshman to go out there, but it's also really cool," she said.

She realized she wanted to be on the competitive floor as much as she could, and she made that happen.

She has also refined her routines to where she's scored between 39.30 and 39.50 in seven of the last nine meets after starting the season with 39.10, 39.275 and 39.225. The team's attention to improving every little detail has helped her accomplish that.

"I don't think I can do much better skill-wise," she said, explaining that a floor upgrade is the main thing she'll concentrate on over the summer... "Other than that, I think just continuing to be confident and have fun and stay consistent. I'm almost at my peak, I think."

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