Utah gymnastics: Three Red Rocks will compete for individual national championships Sunday

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 12:07 p.m. MDT

Nansy Damianova performs on the floor as Utah faces Florida in NCAA gymnastics in Salt Lake City, Saturday, March 16, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Nansy Damianova performs on the floor as Utah faces Florida in NCAA gymnastics in Salt Lake City, Saturday, March 16, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

LOS ANGELES — The Utes still have a shot at a national gymnastics title as three of their gymnasts will compete in four events in Sunday's individual competitions.

Sophomore Tory Wilson, who won 10 straight vault competitions this season, will compete with 23 others for a vault title. She competes 23rd of 24 competitors.

Two Utes qualified on bars — sophomore Georgia Dabritz and junior Nansy Damianova. Dabritz will compete first, followed by Damianova. Only Dabritz has experience in the individual title competition.

Damianova will also compete on floor, along with 11 others. She will compete ninth in the group.

The individual competitions are a bittersweet reward for the Utes, who were disappointed not to make the Super Six this season.

“It’s exciting,” said Dabritz. “I’m glad I have Nansy and Tory to compete with me. We’ll go in and have fun, and just go out and show people what we can do.”

Damianova was thrilled to earn a berth in two of her three events, and it is her first appearance in the individual championships.

Wilson expected to make the cut on vault, but she said she was “excited” to compete one last time this year.

Marsden said he was hoping Becky Tutka’s floor routine would make the cut, but he was pleased for the gymnasts who will represent the Red Rocks on Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavillion.

“It’s great for them,” he said. “There was definitely some good stuff.”

And despite the disappointment of missing out on the finals, Marsden said he sees a lot of promise in the fact that the Utes return every gymnast on the roster and they’ve already begun making positive changes.

“We changed the end of (Dabritz's beam) routine, and we’re on to something, I think,” he said. “That’s going to give her a chance to be a much more consistent, confident beam worker.”

UCLA LOVES FLORIDA COACH: When it was announced that Florida had won the 2013 NCAA national gymnastics title, the UCLA fans stood on their feet and joined the orange- and blue-clad Gator fans in doing the Gator chomp. They were offering praise to one of their own — Florida coach Rhonda Faehn, who competed for UCLA from 1990-1992.

She was touched by the support she received, including congratulations from her former coach.

“It’s pretty incredible,” she said. “Looking up in the stands and seeing former UCLA coach Jerry Tomlinson, who recruited me to UCLA, saying I love you and doing the Gator chomp, that was huge. It kind of made it full circle for me.”

UTAH ALL-AMERICANS: Eight Utah gymansts earned All-American honors for their performances in Friday's semifinal. Wilson earned the honor on vault, while Dabritz earned it on bars. Damianova earned the award for both floor and bars.

Junior co-captain Hailee Hansen earned second-team honors for bars. Freshman Breanna Hughes was second team on beam and Tutka was second team on floor.

Dabritz earned first-team All-American honors for her all-around performance.

UTE FANS CHEER FOR BRUINS: Many of Utah fans showed up for Saturday evening's championship, despite the absence of the Red Rocks. They cheered, most of the time, for the only other Pac-12 team in the competition — UCLA.

This year Utah fans sported neon green shirts with Utah sentiments on the front. They choose an eye-catching color each year to sport during the NCAA nationals because so many of the top programs have similar colors to the Utes’ black and red.

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