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Utes off to Michigan, Y. to Iowa for regionals

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 5:02 p.m. MDT

Utah's gymnastics team has had a hard time winning at the University of Michigan in the past, but it won there this season and now has the opportunity to try again on April 8.
The No. 2 Utes are being sent to the NCAA Northeast Regional at Ann Arbor, Mich., as they attempt to qualify for the 2006 NCAA championships at Oregon State on April 20-22.
"I'm fine with that," said Ute coach Greg Marsden, whose team has advanced to the national championships for 30 straight years, the only team in the country to have done so.
BYU, ranked 24th, will be the sixth seed at the North Central Regional at Iowa State. Southern Utah and Utah State missed qualifying for the postseason as teams but have several individuals who will compete at the North Central, hoping to advance to nationals.
The top two teams in each of the six regionals advance to the NCAA finals.
"We're familiar with Michigan," Marsden said. "We've been there a number of times (five), so we should be very comfortable in that location and environment. We haven't always competed well there but did get a win this year."
Marsden was happy not to get into the West Regional at Stanford, which will have No. 5 Alabama, No. 8 Stanford and No. 16 Oregon State. Alabama and Stanford are stronger than their rankings indicate, and Oregon State will be desperate to qualify for nationals since it is hosting that event.
In results determined by a draw prior to the setting of the regional fields, Utah will begin competition on floor and end on a bye.
BYU will begin with the bye before bars and end on vault. Other teams in the North Central Regional are No. 4 Iowa State, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 15 Arizona, No. 19 Denver and No. 21 Minnesota.
At Michigan, Utah, which won 196.40-196.10 in Ann Arbor on Feb. 11, will be the top seed with Michigan, tied for ninth in the final regular-season rankings, as the second seed. Other teams in the field are No. 14 Auburn, No. 27 New Hampshire, No. 45 Pittsburgh and No. 52 Rutgers.
Utah has never seen Rutgers and has met Auburn and Pittsburgh only in passing in the postseason. It met New Hampshire once in the regular season when Maine resident Shannon Bowles was on the team to allow her a meet near her home. Utah is 15-9 all-time against Michigan and 8-0 against the other four.
At Ames, Iowa, Utah State's Jessica Parenti is the highest-seeded at-large competitor, followed by Southern Utah's Sheena Shaw and Leah Sakhitab. USU's Meagan Lewis qualified as the No. 5 all-around seed. USU's Rachael Mandy, Alex Martin and Brittany Price are alternates, respectively, on vault, bars and beam, and SUU's Jess Langley is an alternate on floor.
Other regionals are being held at Georgia, Louisiana State, Stanford and Arkansas.
The top 18 ranked teams are seeded into regionals other than the ones in which they are normally assigned, with the other 18 teams competing sent to their home regionals.
No. 1-ranked Georgia will host Nebraska, Missouri, West Virginia, North Carolina and North Carolina State. No. 3 Florida winds up in the South Central Regional at Arkansas with UCLA, tied for ninth in the rankings.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com

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