Red Rocks: Utah Utes gymnasts shine in home opener, win four-team meet
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The thought crept in just as sophomore Georgia Dabritz began to prepare for her final routine during Saturday's home opener for the Utah gymnastics team.
She realized the Utes were the only team in the four-team competition that didn't have a gymnast fall on any event.
"I thought about it briefly," said Dabritz after Utah defeated Oregon State, West Virginia and SUU with a score of 196.950. "I didn't know about the other teams, but I knew we didn't have a fall, and then I just tried not to think about it."
Dabritz pushed the possibility of the Red Rocks finishing without a major mistake from her mind because it's her tendency to over-think just about everything that's caused her into trouble in the past.
"Georgia is the real deal," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden. "She's big-time. The only thing that held Georgia back in the past was Georgia. She's a tremendous talent, but she had a reputation for meltdowns and making mistakes in competition."
He said she worked especially hard this past year on her mental game, and she's improved so much, she's now able to compete in the event that had been the cause of some of those meltdowns — beam.
"That's the one thing she didn't compete last year because it was so problematic," Marsden said.
Those problems seem to be significantly better as she has become a pillar of strength for a young team. When the team struggled on bars in last week's UCLA loss, Dabritz was one of the six who delivered despite the pressure that mounts when others are struggling.
Saturday night she scored a 9.90 on beam and won the night's all-around title with a score of 39.525.
"She's getting better with it," said Marsden. "We're working on her mental choreography, keeping her mind active in a way that that self-talk can't creep in." While Utah's gymnasts seemed to redeem themselves after last week's disastrous start, all three of the other teams struggled, especially SUU, who lost its two best gymnasts to injuries last week, and West Virginia which had four falls on beam.
"Oregon State kind of did what we did last week," Marsden said. "They struggled on bars, and then settled down and did a nice job."
The Beavers finished second with a score of 195.950 and they had the second-place, all-around finisher in Makayla Stambaugh, who earned a score of 39.425. West Virginia was third with a score of 192.125, while the T-birds were fourth, earning a disappointing 191.050 points.
"SUU lost two of their top girls on Thursday, so I know they were trying to fill in some holes," he said. "Last week, once we got it out of our system, and calmed down a little bit, the rest of the meet we did a pretty good job."
Saturday was more indicative of what fans can expect from this young team.
"Tonight was more of what I was expecting last week," said Marsden. "Some things were better last week; Our landings on vault were better last week. I think the girls were really amped up about being at home with this crowd tonight."
The Utes enjoyed massive home-crowd support as 14,917 fans showed up to the team's home opener. It's the largest crowded crowd since 1992 at a regular-season meet and the 13th largest in history.
Several other bright spots for the Utes: the debut of two of the team's three freshman was impressive and Kassandra Lopez, who didn't compete last week due to a strained calf, was able to compete on bars. She said watching the team struggle on bars last week was difficult, but that changed this week.
"I was really happy about that,” said Lopez, who is still very limited by the injury. "I really thought about it today and felt I needed to hit (my routine) for the girls."
Sophomore Tory Wilson earned a career best of 9.950, which earned her the vault title for the night. Team co-captain Corrie Lothrop was third with a score of 39.250.
"What you saw tonight is what I expect week in and week out," Marsden said. "Now we got that monkey off our back, from what happened at UCLA, now we can focus on eliminating some of the smaller execution."
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