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College roundup: Utes capture NCAA West Region championship

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 2:43 p.m. MDT

BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Utes won two more races and had five student-athletes finish on the podium as the University of Utah ski team won the NCAA West Region/RMISA championship on Saturday.

Utah totaled 932 points over the two-day event and finished 69.5 points ahead of reigning national champion Colorado in the team standings.

"It was fitting for us to end the regional's on a day where team skiing was really what it was all about," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "Conditions were very challenging for both Alpine and Nordic squads, yet we handled the pressure to put up solid results in every discipline, once again. I really can't ask for more than this from the team. Everyone has contributed and today was no different. I am very proud of our run so far this season, thanks to hard work, team work and a great staff. We will rest up now and do a bit of fine tuning as we gear up for the finals."

Senior Maria Graefnings completed her sweep of the women's Nordic races at Bohart Ranch as she won the 15km classical race.

"Today turned into a really tough day of racing," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "It started snowing partway through the men's race and the women stepped to the start line in an aggressive blizzard. In this type of race, on a tough course and in challenging wintery weather, the racers are pushed to their absolute physical and mental limits. Every result was hard won and this makes me extra proud of this team's efforts today.

"Maria skied her way to another win, and Parker landed another top-10 finish. In short, this is a cohesive team and one that truly works together. I am thrilled we won regionals, blown away by our season so far, and looking forward to returning to Bozeman for the championships in a week and a half."

Senior Parker Tyler joined Graefnings in the top 10 with an eighth-place, while Mali Noyes placed 24th.

Senior Didrik Smith finished third in the men's 20km classic for his fourth podium effort of the season and the sixth of his career.

"Today, I just want to take off my hat to the coaches," Smith said. "It was an amazing job they did with the skies. Even though the conditions changed dramatically during the race, our skies were stellar. It is also inspiring to watch the girl's team working through the toughest conditions I have seen in a long time. It was just dumping snow. We are doing a great job as a team and that is motivating."

Teammate Miles Havlick followed in fourth place, the first race he has not finished on the podium this season. The Boulder, Colo., native has finished in the top five in all 10 events in 2012 and 21 times during his career.

"Miles and Didrik skied the entire race together," Holt said. "They sprinted one another to the finish line, congratulated one another, and then immediately asked how they could help with the women's race. Tom and Rolf also skied great races and were quick to step up to support our women's team."

Rolf Figi followed in 13th, while Tom Smith was 15th.

In the Slalom races at the Bridger Bowl, two Utes were on the women's podium as junior Anna Kocken notched her first victory of the season. Her other career victory came in the slalom race at the 2010 regional meet. This was Kocken's third straight podium appearance and her fifth this season.

"I am just speechless," Utah Head Alpine coach Jaka Korencan said. "I would like to congratulate our athletes for brave performances in extremely challenging weather conditions. From thick snowfall to wind, fog, and challenging surface, it didn't matter, the team was on fire. We could not have been more proud of this tight-knit group of student-athletes. It is so rewarding to see that all our athletes contributed to the success of this team and they should be really proud of themselves. Today, the women's team was shining again and after sweeping the podium yesterday, Anna and Julie [Bordeau] put together two more fantastic runs and occupied the podium."

Bordeau joined Kocken on the podium with a third-place run. The Mrozine, France native has placed third or better seven times during her first season with the Utes.

Jaime DuPratt finished 15th, while Tii-Maria Romar rounded out the Ute effort in 23rd.

Senior Torjus Krogdahl led the way for the Utes with a third-place finish in the men's slalom for his second podium effort of the year and the seventh of his career.

"I want to congratulate our men's team as well," Korencan said. "They were fantastic, fighting hard and smart. Torjus once again proved that he is one of the best slalom skiers on the circuit. The same goes for Nick [Cohee] and Ryan [Wilson], who had one of the best runs of the season. The whole year has been just an incredible ride. Hard work on and off the hill has finally paid off. These athletes really deserve it. I am just so happy for them."

Cohee was the next Ute in the individual standings as he finished in sixth place. The Gardnerville, Nev., native has been among the top 10 in eight of 10 races this season and 18 times during his career.

Wilson was the third Ute scorer as he finished in a 10th-place tie. He has now been in the top 10 in 19 races over his career and 10 times in 2012.

Freshman Tim Hribar completed the Ute effort with a 29th-place finish.

The NCAA Championships will be held Mar. 7-10 in Bozeman, Mont. Check out utahutes.com for all the details.

COUGARS WIN GYMNASTICS MEET: At Provo, in its third home meet of the season, the BYU gymnastics team defeated in-state rivals Southern Utah and Utah State, marking its second win of the season.

"The team came back on beam and bars and did relatively well," head coach Brad Cattermole said. "They rescued themselves from what could have been a bad week. I thought they turned it around rather well tonight."

The Cougars posted their best team score in the vault of the season, with every gymnast either tying or setting season-high marks. Senior Natalie Eyre Pickard led BYU with a score of 9.875, with junior Sarah Yandow and sophomore Raquel Willman setting career highs, scoring 9.850. Senior Mickell Merrell also recorded a career high mark of 9.825, and Senior Krysten Koval and freshman Jordan Schult set season-high marks, scoring 9.775 and 9.725 respectively.

Eyre-Pickard also led BYU on the bars, posting 9.825. Willman came in second for the Cougars with a score of 9.800 and KayCee Gassaway recorded a season-high score of 9.725.

On the beam, Eyre-Pickard tied her season best, posting 9.85 and Willman set a career-high, with a score of 9.825.

BYU finished the meet with a strong performance on the floor, as every gymnast scored a 9.700 or above. Koval and Jennifer Lezeu both tied their season bests, with scores of 9.825 and 9.75 respectively, and Willman set her third career-high of the night, scoring 9.800.

With those three career-high scores, Willman won all-around for the first time this season, finishing with an impressive score of 39.275.

SUU fell to BYU, but extended a 24-meet winning streak over Utah State as the Aggies finished with a 193.625.

"We were right in this meet," head coach Scott Bauman said. "If we don't step out on floor, or if I would have put Brooke Cersosimo in the vault lineup or if we did many other things we may have won. But, I'm happy with how the team performed today and that we were able to go 22-for-23 tonight on our routines."

The Thunderbirds opened on the balance beam, going 6-for-6, scoring a 48.425. Southern Utah was led by seniors Brooke Cersosimo and Anna Schumacher with matching 9.750's. The duo was followed closely by Caitlin Kennedy with a 9.700 as Ana Jaworski (9.625) and matching 9.600's by Lauren Jeffrey and Jamie Armijo rounded out the team score.

Southern Utah moved to floor during the second rotation with Jaworski opening the lineup with a career-best 9.800. The mark was one of two career highs for Jaworski on the night as the freshman also tallied a 9.800 on vault. Fellow freshmen Brittney Jensen and Armijo were just behind Jaworski on floor with a 9.775 and 9.750, respectively. Jeffrey, making her first appearance in the floor lineup since injuring an ankle in the first meet of the year, scored a 9.650 with Bernier rounding out the team score of 48.475 with a 9.500. Bernier and Kennedy (9.475) each suffered mishaps during their routines, stepping out of bounds and leading to neutral deductions of one-tenth for each gymnast.

The Thunderbirds took their first lead of the meet after scoring a 48.500 on vault, going with a lineup composed entirely of freshmen. Jaworski's 9.800 was matched by Bernier and Jensen as both gymnasts also tallied a 9.800, respectively. Armijo and Carly Sigler followed with a 9.500 and 9.600, respectively. Cersosimo was originally slated to return to the vault lineup in the sixth spot, but Bauman elected to keep the senior out to prevent any chance of aggravating existing injuries and after a solid 5-for-5 showing by the freshmen lineup.

Southern Utah's team score grew to 145.400 after the third rotation, keeping ahead of BYU in second with a 145.275 after a 48.025 on beam and Utah State's 144.975 after a 48.675 on the floor exercise.

Following her pair of career highs, Jaworski suffered a fall leading off the Thunderbirds on the bars and finished the event with an 8.250. The pressure didn't phase the rest of the SUU lineup as the group finished the afternoon hitting its final five routines en route to its best team score of the competition with a 48.525. Alyssa Click, making her way back from a foot injury, led SUU with a 9.775 on the event only two days after being cleared to compete. Cersosimo finished the lineup with a 9.725 and was joined by a trio of 9.675's by Jeffrey, Bernier and Armijo for the final team score.

Armijo finished as the top Thunderbird all-arounder with a career-best 38.525. Jaworski, also competing in the all-around, finished with a 37.475 on account of her fall on the uneven bars.

Foe the Aggies, senior Rebecca Holliday tied for the beam win with a career-high tying 9.850 while freshman Susie Miller shared the floor crown with a 9.825, just .025 shy of her career-best.

COUGARS UPSET: At Provo, the No. 3 BYU men's volleyball team lost in a nail-biting five sets to No. 12 UC Santa Barbara after coming off a 3-1 win against the Gauchos on Friday.

"A lot of credit to Santa Barbara," said head coach Chris McGown. "They found some momentum in the third set and they kept going. They played really well, were almost mistake free and did a nice job."

For the first time this season, BYU had four players with double-digit kills. Robb Stowell led the team with 16, followed by 13 from Josue Rivera who also contributed a career-high 15 digs for his second double-double of the season. Senior Futi Tavana added 11 kills, and Russ Lavaja had a season-high 10 while adding a season-high two aces.

Senior Joe Kauliakamoa and freshman Jaylen Reyes both contributed eight digs. Kauliakamoa's were a career-high and Reyes' were a season-high.

The Cougars won the first set, 25-18, after not trailing the entire set. Stowell led the team with four kills on the set. Lavaja helped the victory with two aces in a row to take the set's largest lead at 15-7. Lavaja also had a team-leading three blocks in the set.

The Cougars were victorious again in the second set, winning by a score of 25-19. Redshirt freshman Rivera had a game-high six kills, with a .667 hitting percentage to lead the attack in the second.

UC Santa Barbara came out swinging in the third set with a 4-0 lead to begin the set. Dylan Davis had a perfect hitting percentage and four kills to help the Gauchos, 25-17. The UCSB momentum continued into the fourth set as they took it 25-19. Austin Kingi led the way with 7 kills for UCSB in the fourth.

In an exciting fifth set, the two teams battled back and forth, tying eight times. BYU led by as much as four with a 12-8 score but the Gauchos took back the momentum to win 15-13.

"We didn't make the swings we wanted to make at the times we wanted to make them," McGown continued. "I thought we really lost composure but I'm hoping that all of this is educational for us and that we can figure some things out, and we're better for going through it. I think we will be."

BYU will be back in action against No. 10 Pepperdine on Friday, March 2nd at 7:00 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.

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