Tom Smart, Deseret News
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Utah co-head coaches Greg and Megan Marsden may be as, or more, excited than their gymnasts for Saturday’s NCAA regional meet at 3 p.m. MDT. Greg Marsden has been at the helm of Utah’s program for 39 years, while Megan Marsden has been with the team for 30 years. But despite the long tenures, both admit every postseason is equally exciting.
“I think if you’re not excited or don’t have some nerves, you don’t care. If you don’t care, you shouldn’t do this anymore,” said Greg Marsden.
"You’re in postseason, everything hinges on one meet. It makes it a little nerve-wracking, but I’m excited about possibilities.”
The coaching duo led No. 5 Utah to its first Pac-12 team championship and were named coaches of the year by their peers. The win was especially impressive because of the dominant fashion in which it occurred — something that even surprised Greg Marsden.
Utah’s gymnasts won four of the five event titles, losing only on beam. They also outpaced second-place Stanford 197.925-197.175. The score was Utah’s second best of the season and came as an encore to its best score of the season — a 198.025 against No. 6 Georgia.
“We felt we were hitting on all cylinders that night,” said Marsden. “It was especially rewarding, and to win in that manner was great.”
Tory Wilson and Georgia Dabrtiz led Utah at the Pac-12 championships. Wilson won the all-around, while Dabritz grabbed the bars title. Dabritz also tied with teammate Nansy Damianova for the floor title and with three others for the vault title. UCLA’s Samantha Peszak won the balance beam, meaning all of the Pac-12 event champions will be featured in the Fayetteville regional.
Utah’s lineups are set on vault, bars and floor, but the final spot on the balance beam is still up in the air. The Marsdens have rotated Breanna Hughes, Becky Tutka and Georgia Dabritz through the lineup. Greg Marsden said Hughes has the edge given she has hit in the past two meets and has practiced well. But he also acknowledged the coaches didn’t make a decision for that final spot until warmups at the Pac-12 championships.
Bye or bust
Greg Marsden said bye weeks are a mixed bag because they allow gymnasts to rest both physically and mentally but also can slow down momentum.
“I do think this time around the break is going to help because we had three meets in a row that were intense and with tough opponents,” said Marsden. "It's a mental break more than anything."
The bye week is the first of the season for Utah, though it did get an extra weekend off when it faced Stanford on a Monday.
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