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Utes upset Florida with perfect performance

Published: Saturday, March 16 2013 9:26 p.m. MDT

Utah's Red Rock gymnasts celebrate their victory over Florida in NCAA gymnastics in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Georgia Dabritz said she was so relaxed before her bar routine that not even her teammate’s fall right before her shook her confidence.

“It felt great,” said the sophomore after leading Utah to a 198.125-197.875 upset of No. 2 ranked Florida in their last home meet Saturday night. “I didn’t feel like there was any pressure; I just did what I do in the gym. … I hit the ground and thought, ‘That’s probably my best one yet.’ ”

And it was. In fact, it was perfect.

Dabritz, who tied for the all-around win with Olympic silver medalist and 2009 all-around world champion Bridget Sloan (39.70), tried to hold back the emotions that swept over her as her teammates congratulated her on scoring the team’s third 10 of the season (Tory Wilson on vault and Lia Del Priore on floor).

That was her only failure of the night.

“I cried after,” she said as Wilson, who sat next to her in the post-meet interviews, put her arm around Dabritz’s shoulders. “I was trying to hold it in, but everybody was coming at me, and that just made me more emotional. I was trying just to soak it all in.”

She basked in her perfect moment for only a few minutes as Utah needed every fraction of a point to best the Gators. The seventh-ranked Red Rocks turned in season-high scores on three of the four events, falling just five-hundredths shy of their best vault performance. The meet was a duel between two powerhouses, with the lowest counted score of the night being an astonishing 9.875.

“Throughout the meet, I thought, ‘This is great college gymnastics,’ ” said Utah co-head coach Greg Mardsen. “This is why fans come. Two good teams going back and forth, and neither one is giving away much to the other. The meet came down to the last performer or two; it was just a great experience, hopefully for everyone. Florida came in here in a very difficult situation and did a remarkably good job.”

That difficult situation wasn’t just facing a tough Ute squad. It also meant ignoring the 14,930 screaming Red Rock fans who had such high expectations Saturday that they booed sophomore Becky Tutka’s highest floor score of the season — a 9.975.

The performances were so impressive that four times at least one judge wanted to award a 10 to an athlete — Wilson on vault, Florida’s Kytra Hunter on vault (the tie keeps Wilson’s win streak alive at 10-0 this season), Tutka on floor and Dabritz on floor.

“I don’t think I stopped screaming the whole time,” said Dabritz, who was hoarse from cheering on her teammates. “I think this shows we’re a strong team. Nothing can really knock us down. We just wanted to have fun and come out and put on a show for our fans.”

All involved had difficulty describing the emotional ride a meet like that provided for the competitors and coaches.

“Last year was amazing,” said Dabritz. “But this was something so unbelievable, you just can’t imagine being in that setting.”

The team has been solid on floor and vault all season with nearly all of its struggles coming on beam and bars. What Marsden saw on Saturday night thrilled but didn’t surprise him.

“That’s the bar team I see in the gym all the time,” said Marsden. “It’s been more a mental thing than a physical thing. They try too hard to be perfect. They seemed much more relaxed tonight.”

While Marsden said Saturday’s performance doesn’t make them favorites at next weekend’s Pac-12 championships in Oregon, his gymnasts said it does reveal something about this squad.

“I think we’re ready,” said a grinning Wilson, who tied for second in the all-around with a 39.650. “We’ve just been building throughout the season, and we’re at a really good point right now.”

Added Dabritz, “Greg says we can always do better. Clearly we can do better on vault.”

Marsden said the excellence exhibited at the meet is indicative of what it will take to earn a trip to nationals.

“A fall can’t even be in the vocabulary,” he said. “It’s how close to perfect can you be?”

Twitter: adonsports

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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