Quantcast

Utah Utes gymnastics: Bijak comes from behind to claim all-around

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 6:36 a.m. MDT

Utah's Stephanie McAllister, right, is hugged by teammates after her floor routine in Utah's win Friday over Georgia. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Utah's Stephanie McAllister, right, is hugged by teammates after her floor routine in Utah's win Friday over Georgia. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In addition to helping her team topple the five-time defending NCAA-champion Georgia Gym Dogs by a mere five-hundredths of a point in their meet at the Huntsman Center on Friday night, Daria Bijak had a successful night all on her own.

The senior tallied a score of 39.375 to capture the all-around title, and she did it in come-from-behind fashion.

"It feels good," Bijak said of her performance, which included a personal record in the floor exercise with a score of 9.950. "In warm-ups, I changed my middle pass (in the floor routine). I don't know if that was the reason for the better score or if the landing was a little cleaner. I don't know, but I like it."

Although the Georgia squad didn't present a challenger in the category, there was still plenty of competition for the award. Going into the final event, just 0.15 points separated the three Utes in contention: senior Jamie Deetscreek (29.575), junior Kyndal Robarts (29.550) and Bijak (29.425).

Robarts led the all-around scoring early with personal records of her own in both the vault and uneven bars events. And the always-dominant Deetscreek performed well at each rotation, including a 9.900 on the beam.

Bijak was neck-and-neck with her teammates throughout the meet but entered the floor exercise in third place. However, her record score, combined with uncharacteristically low scores from her teammates, allowed the senior to pull ahead in the individual race as well as put the Utes in position to retake the lead with one competitor left.

"Last week, it was really close between Jamie (Deetscreek) and me," Bijak said, referring to coming in second to Deetscreek in the all-around in their last meet against Iowa State. "Even in practice, it motivates me to do even better. It makes me want to work harder."

However, while the senior is pleased with the personal achievement and the win over the Utes' rival, she's mostly happy to see her team improving each week.

"It doesn't matter who we beat," she said. "I don't really care if it's Georgia or Iowa State. I just want to do my thing and I want to be good as a team."

e-mail: sthomas@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company