SALT LAKE CITY - In a wild fight to the finish, Utah came within five one-hundredths of a point of the school's first Pac-12 title, placing second to UCLA at the Pac-12 Gymnastics Championships.
UCLA won the meet with a 197.425, followed closely by Utah (197.375), Oregon State (197.025) and Stanford (196.825). Finishing out the standings were four teams from the afternoon session: Arizona (195.900), Arizona State (194.550), Washington (194.125) and California (193.525).
The meet drew the largest crowd ever for the conference gymnastics championship with a total of 19,734 fans--among them Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who was attending his first gymnastics meet. The evening session with Utah drew 10,897 while 8,495 tickets were sold to the first session. The crowd shattered the previous attendance record of 3,035 set at Stanford in 2009.
Corrie Lothrop and Georgia Dabritz became the first Pac-12 champions in Utah history for any sport, with Lothrop winning the all-around by scoring a career-high 39.625, and Dabritz winning bars with a 9.95. Utes racked up a lot of medals, with Stephanie McAllister taking third in the all-around (39.525), Lothrop and McAllister tying for second on bars (9.925), Kyndal Robarts tying for second on beam (9.95), and Nansy Damianova, Dabritz and McAllister all tying for second on floor (9.925).
Dabritz was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, by vote of the league's coaches, while McAllister was honored as the Pac-12 Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the year.
A blistering bar set on the second rotation put Utah in good position, before two falls on the beam knocked the Utes to a distant third. But Utah roared back with its best floor score of the year--a 49.525--to make a run at UCLA, while moving past Stanford, in the finale.
Utah got off to a good start to the meet, scoring a 49.30 on the vault, but couldn't match Stanford coming out of the gates. After the first rotation, Stanford led with a 49.50 on beam, Utah (vault) and UCLA (floor) were tied with a 49.30 and OSU was close behind with a 49.20 on bars. Kailah Delaney and Lothrop led the Utes with 9.90s--for Lothrop, a career high.
On bars, Utah ripped off its best set of the season and one of its best ever, scoring a 49.60. It wasn't far off the school record of 49.70 set the last time the Utes competed in a conference championship--the 1993 Western Athletic Conference event.
The Utes couldn't catch Stanford even with their big bar score, but they edged ahead of UCLA at the midpoint. After two rotations, the standings were: Stanford 98.925, Utah 98.900, UCLA 98.85 and OSU 98.475.
The Utes got on a bind on the beam though when Kassandra Lopez fell off as Utah's first competitor and Mary Beth Lofgren fell from the third position. Lothrop (9.9), Cortni Beers (9.875) and Robarts (9.95) salvaged something from the set, but after three events, Utah was ahead of only Oregon State--and barely--147.850-147.825.
Just had they did on bars, the Utes unloaded on floor, with four gymnasts going 9.90 or better to jump to second and almost catch UCLA.