SALT LAKE CITY — The Red Rocks are headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for regionals.
The NCAA unveiled the postseason bracket Monday afternoon, following a weekend of conference championships.
Utah, the sixth-ranked team in the country and runners-up at the Pac-12 Championships, earned the No. 2 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional, one of four regionals to be held from April 4 through April 6.
“It is what we had figured would likely be the case,” Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden said.
Along with Utah, No. 3 LSU — the Tigers will host the competition — No. 11 Minnesota, No. 14 Auburn, Arkansas, Arizona State and BYU all secured a spot in Baton Rouge.
Lindenwood and George Washington did as well, although their stay in the competition may be brief.
The other three regionals are as follows, excluding a team or two — the Ann Arbor Regional, hosted by No. 7 Michigan, which includes No. 2 UCLA and No. 10 Alabama, among others.
Then there is the Athens Regional, which includes No. 1 Oklahoma, host No. 8 Georgia and No. 9 Kentucky.
Finally there is the Corvallis Regional, which will be hosted by No. 13 Oregon State and will include No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Denver, No. 12 Boise State and Southern Utah.
This year’s postseason is different from previous seasons.
The Super Six format has been done away with, and regionals have become a three-day event.
The first round, set to take place on April 4, will pit the eight lowest-ranked teams to qualify for the tournament against one another in dual meets, or play-in games.
In the case of the Baton Rouge Regional, it will be Lindenwood and George Washington who battle in the play-in meet for a place in the second round.
The second round, slated for April 5, is comprised of two sessions per regional, an afternoon and an evening session.
Utah headlines the afternoon session in Baton Rouge, and will face off against Minnesota — the fourth-place finisher at the Big Ten Championships — BYU and Arkansas.
LSU will then take pole position in the evening session against Auburn, Arizona State and the winner of George Washington-Lindenwood.
The top two teams from each session will then advance to day three of the competition on April 6.
Known as the Super Regional, the final day will consist of one competition, a quad meet, and the top two finishers in the meet will advance to the national semifinals.
To simplify things, Utah co-head coach Tom Farden came up with a slogan, one that will be useful throughout the tournament — until the national championships, that is — ‘two and through.’
“We will use that from this point going forward,” Marsden said. “That means basically that in each meet from this point forward you have to finish in the top two to move on. Scores and averages don’t really matter anymore. Everyone is at zero.”
For Utah, the trip to Baton Rouge is highly anticipated.
Not only will it give the Utes an opportunity to avenge an early season defeat to LSU, it will pit them once again against the rival Cougars.
“I think that is a bonus to this competition, for both teams,” Marsden said. “I think we bring out the best in each other. My girls cheered right away when they found out that BYU was going to be in our competition. A chance to go against BYU ... who doesn’t love that if you are a Utah fan. I think it is good and I am sure (BYU) did the same thing when they found out.”
BYU is coming off a third-place finish at the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Championships.
Head coach Guard Young was named MRGC Coach of the Year, while junior Shannon Evans, an NCAA All-American, earned Gymnast of the Year honors.
Flippin’ Birds to Corvallis: No. 24 Southern Utah will also be a part of the postseason, as the Flippin’ Birds were awarded a spot in the Corvallis Regional.
SUU finished in second place at the MRGC Championships, and will make its seventh straight appearance at an NCAA regional.
The Flippin’ Birds will benefit from a first-round bye — Iowa and Arizona are slated to meet in the regional’s play-in meet — before facing off against Denver, Boise State and Washington in the afternoon session of the second round.
Individual Aggies Qualify: Utah State did not qualify for the postseason, but three Aggie gymnasts, Madison Ward-Sessions, MaKayla Bullitt and Autumn DeHarde did, as an individual event specialist and/or all-around competitor.4 comments on this story
Ward-Sessions qualified in the all-around, thanks in part to an individual floor title and fifth-place finish in the all-around at the MRGC Championships.
Bullitt, meanwhile, qualified on uneven bars, while DeHarde qualified on both beam and floor.
Per the NCAA, “the top all-around competitor... and the top event specialist at each regional site, who is not part of an advancing team, will advance to the national championships.”
All individual competitors will compete day one of the regional competition.