SALT LAKE CITY — Utah gymnast Georgia Dabritz continues to carry a thorn in her side, but the sophomore admits it seems to be inching its way out meet by meet.
That thorn is the notorious beam that has proven as difficult for thousands of fellow gymnasts. It's also the one event that has kept the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and All-American from becoming one of the country's better all-arounders.
"Beam has been a struggle since I was little," said Dabritz. "But I really do feel like it's getting better and better."
Last season, Dabritz competed only once on the event but the results were disastrous as she fell twice before the home fans. This season, she's been on a roller-coaster ride with scores ranging from 9.15 to 9.9.
"If anyone watched her compete this event two years ago, they know she's made huge strides," said co-head coach Megan Marsden who oversees beam.
"We're trying to erase the bad memories and trying to bank a lot of good practices and meets in her repertoire."
Along with the happy thoughts is a desire for some more attitude, which Dabritz admits she and her team might be missing.
"I think we're such a humble team and we really don't get cocky, but sometimes we need that to boost our confidence," said Dabritz. "We need that out on the floor to get that extra oomph. I think we get timid and we hold back rather than letting ourselves be aggressive. We just need to find that middle ground — especially me."
"I agree with Georgia," said Marsden. "The nature of our athletes assembled on this team is many of them come from gymnastics pasts of troubling competition and confidence issues. They're having a hard time coming up with their identity and confidence, in spite of the coaches knowing they are that good.
"At no time have they hit that level of 'I'm all that.' We as coaches need to keep helping them find that confidence."
So far, the No. 7 Red Rocks have been on their own roller-coaster ride full of some road woes and home yeses. They're coming off a tie at Washington (195.975-195.975) last weekend after grinding out a season-best 197.050 while hosting Cal the weekend before. The good news is they are back at home this Saturday versus No. 10 Stanford, where they'll have a chance to work on the confidence issues against a tough opponent before two straight road meets.
Part of Utah's struggles for consistency includes losing leader Corrie Lothrop for the season after the junior tore her Achilles. Lothrop and Dabritz battled it out in events all of last season, which Dabritz admits made her better. The good news for Dabritz is that fellow sophomore Tory Wilson, who competed primarily on vault last year, has stepped up her game.
Wilson took over for Lothrop on bars to be eligible for all-around.
"Georgia has been someone I've always looked up to, and I wanted to get on her level," said Wilson. "So being able to kind of compete with her on her level is exciting for me."
Dabritz, who has recorded career highs above 9.9 in every event, echoes the sentiment and credits Wilson for being one of the reasons Utah is finding success after losing Lothrop. She also admits watching Wilson's improvement has only driven her to do the same with her gymnastics.
NOTES: Fans are asked to be in their seats by 7:45 with introductions starting 15 minutes earlier than the 8 p.m. start time to accommodate the Pac-12 Network's live coverage.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company