Red Rocks advance to 7th straight Super Six

Red Rocks advance to 7th straight Super Six

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Courtney Kupets scored 9.95 points in three of four events Thursday to win her second consecutive all-around title and lead two-time national champion Georgia into the team finals at the NCAA women's gymnastics championships.

Kupets, the defending all-around national champion, led in every event except the balance beam in the first round of preliminaries Thursday. She scored a 9.95 on the vault, uneven bars and the floor exercise. Her 9.90 on the beam was her lowest score of the afternoon.

Kupets posted an overall score of 39.750, which equaled her winning point total from last year and matched the second best all-around mark in NCAA championships history.

She is the first gymnast to earn back-to-back all-around titles since Kim Arnold also did it for the Gym Dogs in 1997 and 1998. Kupets felt the pressure of trying to repeat.

"I was kind of nervous today," she said. "I felt like a little kid competing for the first time."

Georgia scored 197.700 points to edge top-ranked Florida (197.400) in the opening session at the Huntsman Center. Nebraska also advanced with a score of 196.625.

The Gym Dogs easily held onto their early advantage after the evening session, when Utah scored 197.325 to finish first.

The Red Rocks, who are hosting this year's NCAA championship meet, rallied with strong performances on the uneven bars and balance beam, and forced Stanford into a second-place finish after a slow start on the floor exercise.

UCLA (196.475) edged LSU (196.275) as the final qualifier from the evening session.

Utah's home-crowd advantage and Florida's top-ranked status didn't worry Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan, who thinks her team is on track for another title.

"We knocked the wind out of some people's sails," Yoculan said. "I don't think they expected us to do what we did today. We expected it. I expected it."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-04-26-07 2309MDT

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