SALT LAKE CITY — Athletes are fond of saying the victor simply wanted the win more than the loser.
But in the case of the University of Utah gymnastics team, it’s the reverse that’s true.
“We knew we were a little bit ahead going into that last event,” said Georgia Dabritz of the Utes’ troubles on beam at the Pac-12 championships March 23. “And we try not to focus on that, but sometimes I think that gets in our brains. We were trying so hard, it allowed us to make stupid mistakes, mistakes that we don’t’ make in the gym every day.”
It was the fact that they wanted that Pac-12 title so much, that they starting to worry about how to hang onto something they hadn’t yet won.
“We were on top for three events, and then we let down,” said junior Mary Beth Lofgren. “I think we knew we were on top so we just tightened up, and that’s not what you should do.”
In fact, it’s fearlessness that is required to succeed on beam.
“If we approach the meet like we’ve got nothing to lose, then we’ll just go in there and hit,” Lofgren said. “But if we put too much pressure on ourselves, it creates tension and anxiety. We want to win, and we obviously feel the pressure. But we need to approach it like it’s any other meet. We understand regionals is a big deal, but we still have to approach it the same, as if it’s any other meet.”
The fact that they didn’t give their best effort and still managed an impressive road score of 197.075 actually has the gymnasts feeling confident and optimistic.
“I think we’re excited to go to Alabama,” Lofgren said. “I’ve never been and they’ve got a great crowd. We’re used to big crowds, and I think we’re just excited about it.”
It is also a chance to prove just what they’re capable of accomplishing on beam.
“There was a little bit of disappointment because those teams that beat us went out and performed well and we didn’t,” Dabritz said. “But that’s OK because there are a couple more meets that are just as important. Maybe we’ll get a little bit of redemption.”
Several Utah gymnasts earned Pac-12 honors.
Tory Wilson and Georgia Dabritz earned First-Team All-Conference honors for their all-around accomplishments, while Becky Tutka earned first-team honors for floor.
Mary Beth Lofgren and Nansy Damianova earned second-team honors — Lofgren on beam and Damianova on floor.
Utah has to finish in the top two Saturday in order to advance to the National Championship meet on April 19-21 in Los Angeles.
The Utes third-place finish at the Pac-12 championships dropped them to ninth in the rankings.
THE TEAMS COMPETING IN TUSCALOOSAComment on this story
While all six of the teams competing in the Tuscaloosa Region have advanced at least once to the NCAA championships, only Utah has qualified for all 31 NCAA championships. Alabama has the second most with 30 appearances, while BYU is third with 18 trips to nationals. Denver and Iowa have qualified three times and Kent State qualified in 2011.
The meet begins at 6 p.m. (CT) at Coleman Coliseum. There is no television coverage available, but scores and video will be available here.