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Utah gymnastics: Red Rocks host Washington Friday

By Melissa Yack

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 10:10 p.m. MST

Greg Marsden, long time gymnastic coach at the University of Utah talks with Corrie Lothrop during practice, he is closing in on his 1000th victory Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Salt Lake City.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah gymnastics team will enjoy a home meet for the second week in a row when it hosts Washington Friday at 6 p.m. It’s the first time this season Utah has had back-to-back meets in the Huntsman Center, and the timing is perfect according to the team. Utah follows up Friday’s meet with a road meet next week at No. 8 Michigan that includes the host team and No. 9 UCLA.

“Having two in a row at home before going out on the road for a tri-meet will be a confidence booster for everyone,” said senior Nansy Damianova.

Utah will use the meet to build on a consistent beam performance last week against Oregon State that followed a horrendous showing on the event against Stanford earlier last week.

“It was really a one-time thing, so I’m not worried about us not doing well again,” Damianova said about the Stanford meet. “Every year we have one meet where it’s not what we can do since it’s hard to stay perfect every week. We seem to come back.”

Damianova has been key for fifth-ranked Utah’s success this season. After falling on the bars in Utah’s first meet of the year, she’s been perfect since and a stalwart in Utah’s vault, bars and floor lineups. The Canadian has been as consistent as any gymnast on the team and has earned a career-best 9.95 on bars once and on floor twice this season.

“Someone doing a spectacular job for us is Nansy,” said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden. “I thought her bars and floor were almost flawless the other night (against Oregon State). She is really at her very best right now.”

Marsden admitted Damianova has been overshadowed because she “hasn’t been the top scorer and is not in the all-around,” but that her consistency has been crucial for the team.

“Nansy has quietly gone about doing her job in the three events she is in,” Marsden said. “She has been absolutely rock solid, and some nights I think she’s the best in events whether the judges agree or not.”

The Huskies are winless in the Pac-12 this season, and have never beaten Utah, though the two teams have tied twice in Seattle. Utah’s Georgia Dabritz is ranked No. 1 on the floor and second on the uneven bars where she remains undefeated this season. Tory Wilson is No. 1 on vault and teammate Kailah Delaney is No. 2. Utah ranks second on vault, bars and floor, but fell to No. 17 on beam.

Around the state

Brigham Young’s gymnastics team travels to Michigan for a tri-meet with No. 8 Michigan and No. 23 Kent State on Friday. The Cougars are coming off two meets last week against Southern Utah with each team hosting and traveling. Southern Utah grabbed both meets, but the Cougars posted their second-best score (195.525) of the season in the latter loss in Cedar City.

Southern Utah is on the road at San Jose State Friday. The Thunderbirds have scored a 195 or higher in their past six meets and have moved into the rankings at No. 25. Utah State is home for its second of four straight meets as it hosts Sacramento State on Friday. The Aggies have their eye on qualifying for regionals as they sit No. 35 with the top 36 qualifying. Utah State hasn’t qualified a team for regionals since 2007, though individuals have qualified.

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