Utah State junior Tana Call-Davis and Brigham Young freshman Korie Jackman will join the University of Utah's women's gymnastics team in Athens, Ga., in two weeks for the NCAA Championships April 14-15.
Davis is the No. 4 and Jackman the No. 5 qualifier for the at-large all-around field - that's gymnasts whose teams didn't make it to the finals. They will compete with all-arounders from the 12 teams for the NCAA all-around and individual-event titles.The field was officially completed Sunday in a conference call of coaching representatives from around the country, and the at-large indvidual field, like the 12 team qualifiers, is chosen by a National Qualifying Score that includes two-thirds regional score and one-third a composite of scores from the regular season.
All five NCAA regionals were held Saturday.
Utah defeated Nebraska for the team title in the Midwest Regional at the Huntsman Center, scoring 192.80 to Nebraska's 192.40. Oklahoma and Arizona State tied for third with 190s, and Arizona was fifth at 188.90.
Those five schools from the Midwest Regional made the 12-team field for nationals. Utah State, which finished sixth in the regional at 188.30, finished 13th in NQS and is the designated alternate team for the finals. BYU was seventh in the regional at 187.0.
"Without a doubt," said Nebraska Coach Rick Walton, "this (Midwest) is the top region in the country and will produce an NCAA champion this year."
"It was tight for a while," said Arizona Coach Jim Galt, whose team is the No. 11 seed for the nationals. He hadn't expected to qualify.
"And eight teams from the West made it," said Galt by telephone from home Sunday night. He was one of the coaches involved the selection conference call.
UCLA is the top-qualifying team, moving ahead of 1988 NCAA champion Alabama on the strength of its regional score. UCLA's NQS is 192.8967. Alabama is the second seed for nationals with 192.6766, just ahead of Utah's 192.5533.
Nebraska is the fourth seed at 192.34, Oklahoma is No. 9, Arizona State No. 10 and Arizona No. 11, ahead of Northeast Regional winner Ohio State.
Three from the West Regional qualified - UCLA, Cal Fullerton and Oregon State.
Two regions will send only one representative each - the Northeast and the Central, where only Alabama made it when Louisiana State (which went into the regional ranking 12th) faltered.
Utah's third-seed status means the Utes, who have never finished lower than second in the NCAA finals, will start with a bye and open competition on balance beam, the traditional bugaboo for almost all teams.
Utah Coach Greg Marsden says, "You can look at it both ways. If you can do a job on that event to start, you know you're in it. The negative is it's an event that you can have some misses on, and if you start poorly, it's an uphill battle.
"We'll know pretty early whether we're in it."
In the individual at-large field, the two top qualifiers are veteran international competitors Marie Rothliesberger of Minnesota and Yumi Mordre of Washington. Mordre finished seventh in the 1988 NCAA finals.
Third seed is Lisa Wittwer of Minnesota, followed by USU's Davis and BYU's Jackman. Davis finished 13th in the Midwest Regional all-around, scoring 38.0.
As a team, BYU started on beam and suffered four falls in its first-ever NCAA Regional appearance. Jackman was one of those who fell. She scored 9.0 on beam but came back to finish with 37.80 in the all-around. A week earlier, she'd set a Utah collegiate record with 38.95 in a dual-meet all-around.