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Red Rocks rocked rookie Pac-12 season

By Melissa Yack

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 1 2012 10:57 p.m. MDT

Utah's Stephanie McAllister was recently named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The senior will play a key role for the Red Rocks in the NCAA regionals at the Huntsman Center on Saturday. m

Ravell Call, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah gymnastics team opens its NCAA postseason Saturday as it hosts one of six NCAA Regional sites. The meet begins at 6 p.m. in the Huntsman Center, with the top two teams and additional top individuals advancing to the NCAA Championships, April 20-22.

Utah is looking to improve on its second-place Pac-12 Championships finish, and is coming off a bye week in which it continued working on putting together a solid all-around meet.

"There is no question a lot of great things happened (at the Pac-12 Championships)," said Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden. "The only bittersweet thing is so many great pieces, but not the team accolade. I'm still getting over it because it was tough on my event to not perform as well as on the other events. So for me, it hit maybe harder than for others."

Marsden coaches beam, the event in which Utah had to count a fall during the Pac-12 Championships meet while winner UCLA didn't count a fall.

"What gives us optimism for what we can be is that we scored a big score even with a fall," said Marsden. "We have some individuals doing very good things and we got our name on the map in the Pac-12."

Looking back at the regular-season, Utah's other co-head coach Greg Marsden said the overall feeling is excitement. The Marsdens entered the season with 11 underclassmen, of which five are freshman, on a team of 15.

"It was a great experience to be in a prestigious conference and one of the best gymnastics conferences in the country," said Greg Marsden.

Utah finished the regular season with a 13-4 record, going 7-3 in dual meets and 6-1 at the Pac-12 Championships.

Marsden said it's been fun to watch his talented freshman class develop, and that he is hoping their consistency is there this weekend. He also credits his three seniors — Stephanie McAllister, Kyndal Robarts and Cortni Beers — with being stabilizing factors for the young team.

Though Utah didn't walk away with the school's first team championship in its rookie Pac-12 season, it did earn the first two individual conference titles for the school. Corrie Lothrop won the all-around, while Georgia Dabritz was the bars champion from the Pac-12 Championships meet.

Lothrop beat out the likes of two-time conference gymnast of the year Leslie Mak from Oregon State, as well as her Red Rock teammate McAllister, who finished third at the championships.

"It's really exciting. I honestly didn't expect it and things just happened to go in my favor," said Lothrop.

"I put a new vault in, and actually doing it well was exciting. I did it at Florida and it was more of a surprise that I landed on my feet. This time I was more confident and I knew where the ground was. It hasn't been very long I've been doing it on a hard surface."

Along with the bars title, Dabritz was also named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

"I honestly didn't think about how many really good freshmen there are in this conference until my mom and I were talking," said Dabritz. "I can't believe I got picked over some of the others — it's really amazing."

Utah also wrapped up several all-conference honors. Lothrop and McAllister were named first team for the all-around, while Kailah Delaney (vault), Kyndal Robarts (beam) and Dabritz (floor) also received first-team honors.

Cortni Beers was named to the second-team for bars.

A final highlight was McAllister being named Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Scholar-athletes are awarded based on academic and athletic success.

NCAA Gymnastics

Salt Lake Regional

Saturday, 6 p.m.

Huntsman Center

Teams competing are No. 5 Nebraska, No. 8 Utah, No. 17 Minnesota, No. 24 Iowa State, Arizona State and San Jose.

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