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Native Utahns Mary Beth Lofgren and Hailee Hansen soaking in Ute gymnastics team's 1,000th win

By Melissa Yack

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6 2014 6:51 p.m. MST

Utah's Hailee Hansen reacts after performing on the bars as Utah, BYU, SUU and Boise State compete Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 in the Huntsman Center.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Every kid daydreams, but few get to see those dreams come true.

Enter Mary Beth Lofgren and Hailee Hansen, two Utah natives currently in their senior seasons on Utah's gymnastics team. As kids, they camped out in the Huntsman Center chairs to cheer on the Utes. As adults, they just helped that same program earn its 1,000th victory.

“I love the U. — it’s home,” said Lofgren. “Getting a degree and doing gymnastics here is what I always wanted to do.”

Lofgren burst on to the scene as a freshman, hitting 40 of 40 routines and finishing fifth in beam at the NCAA championships. But the Salt Lake City native has experienced an up-and-down ride since, including being a multievent contributor at times and contributing only on beam at others.

“You take it as it comes because every year brings new challenges and new things to deal with,” said Lofgren. “It’s more about where I can help the team.”

“Mary Beth has been able to help us where we needed her and when we needed her,” said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden.

Hansen, a Bountiful native who walked on to Utah, is a bars specialist with a work ethic parallel to anyone on the team. She’s been voted team co-captain the past two seasons and was awarded a scholarship this year after Taylor Allex left.

“It’s the icing on the cake. But in a way if the scholarship had never happened, my hard work has still paid off,” said Hansen.

“When I came here, I was really intimidated because I was a freshman, a walk-on and had watched how good this team was for so long. But, it didn’t take long for me to feel like I was part of this family.”

Hansen is only the third walk-on at Utah to earn All-America honors.

“Hailee has been a great help on the bars, but the surprise with her comes from the leader she has developed into," said Marsden.

Meanwhile, Lofgren earned All-America honors on the beam, but has fallen twice in the event this season. She hit at Arizona State last weekend after being moved from the anchor position. Along with the lineup change, co-head coach Megan Marsden altered the connection that had contributed to the two falls.

“I’ve been doing that routine for so long,” said Lofgren. “Maybe the change switched things mentally for me.”

Along with beam, Lofgren is competing on floor and vault. She beat out teammate Lia Del Priore for a vault spot two weeks ago and hit a career-best 9.9. It’s a coveted spot considering Utah ranks No. 1 in vault.

“What’s fun with Hailee and Mary Beth is that they come from two different clubs in this state,” said Greg Marsden. “The level of gymnastics in Utah continues to get better and better with four to five clubs training at high levels.”

Lofgren and Hansen recognize the level of talent vying to be Red Rocks since they watched great gymnast after great gymnast help Utah win over the years. For now, they’re soaking in the significance of being part of the 1,000th win and enjoying being on the receiving end of the cheers before they return to the Huntsman Center seats.

No. 13 Arizona at No. 4 Utah

Friday, 7 p.m.

Huntsman Center

Fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. Friday for a pre-meet celebration of Greg Marsden’s 1,000th win. The fourth-ranked Red Rocks have never lost to No. 13 Arizona, and are off to their first 6-0 start since their 2008 NCAA runner-up season. Utah’s Georgia Dabrtiz was named Pac-12 Specialist of the Week for a fourth-straight week, while Tory Wilson is the reigning Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week.

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