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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah's Corrie Lothrop prepares for the bars as the University of Utah gymnasts team defeats Utah State University Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It doesn't bother me if I go first. A lower score, yeah, but it's more about the team and how I can help the team. —Corrie Lothrop

SALT LAKE CITY — Sometimes sacrificing for the team is worth it. Just ask gymnast Corrie Lothrop, who came to Utah after an outstanding elite career. Lothrop hasn't sought out the superstar role at Utah, but rather has settled into what's likely a more important role.

"Sometimes the flash shows up with the big scores and the ending routine, but the way you win meet after meet and championships is with what's going on in the lead-up roles," said Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden.

Lothrop's challenge in her sophomore season? Leading off the beam event, which she admits carries more pressure than trying for the big score. But, she has gladly accepted her coach's challenge.

"We've got some freshmen coming on strong, but I don't know them well enough to know they can handle that yet," said Marsden. "I went to CoLo (as the Red Rocks call Lothrop) and asked her if she would do this. I wanted her to know she had earned better based on last season, but ..."

Leading off likely means lower scores for Lothrop, who was second-team All-America on beam last year, as she sets up the judges for the rest of her teammates. Lothrop believes the tradeoff is worth it.

"It doesn't bother me if I go first," said Lothrop. "A lower score, yeah, but it's more about the team and how I can help the team.

"As much as I loved being elite and competing for myself, I love the team atmosphere more — knowing I can contribute to the team as a whole. If I make a mistake, I knew it was on me before, but now if I make a mistake I have five other teammates that can help me out."

Lothrop came to Utah via China, Massachusetts and Maryland. She was born in China, and was adopted from an orphanage when she was 2. The family lived in Massachusetts, where Lothrop immediately began participating in gymnastics with a mommy-and-me class. She then trained at her family's gym until 2005 when a difficult decision was made as Lothrop and her mom moved to Maryland so she could train with coach Kelli Hill.

"It was really tough for my dad at first because he stayed behind to run the gym," said Lothrop. "I think we all knew it was the best move to get me to the next level, but I missed him."

The move paid off for Lothrop in a couple of ways. She had a beam skill named after her when Hill answered Lothrop's begging to stop landing a skill on her bum ankle. The move is a switch-leg side aerial and is simply named the Lothrop. Lothrop laughs at how the skill came about, but credits Hill for helping her compile an elite resume that sent her across the globe, including to her home country of China in 2008 as an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team.

In her debut season at Utah, Lothrop was thrown into the mix as one of six freshman competing in place of injured teammates. She was also battling a nagging ankle injury related to floating bone chips.

"One day it would be fine, and the next if a bone got caught in my joint I couldn't even walk," said Lothrop. "I had surgery in the offseason and it's better now."

Despite the injury, Lothrop earned All-America honors and became a key scorer in every event for the Red Rocks. This season she's carried over the consistency, finishing third and second in all-around in her first two meets and says she's up to the challenge to stay in the beam leadoff as long as she's needed.