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ATHENS, Ga. - The Utah gymnastics team made a run at four-time defending NCAA champion Georgia, but came up short in the end once again, 197.150-196.725. Utah, second to Georgia at the last three NCAA Championships, made it difficult on the host team--tying the score heading into the last rotation.
The balance beam, where Utah scored a meet-low 48.95, proved its undoing, but the set itself was far from disappointing. Gael Mackie fell as the first beam competitor, only to see the five teammates who followed turn in solid routines. Though no Ute scored higher than Nina Kim's 9.85 on the beam, Jamie Deetscreek (9.825), Annie DiLuzio (9.70), Kristina Baskett (9.825) and Daria Bijak (9.75) all performed extremely well.
"I felt like we held our own tonight," said Utah coach Greg Marsden. "It was huge for us to come into this tough environment, this early in the season and perform so well. We knew we'd have to be perfect to win here, so you focus on what you can control, which I felt we did. I think we did almost everything we could on beam after Gael's fall. You can always find a balance check here or a step on a landing, but we did a nice job."
Marsden continued, "You never like to lose, but the positives of this meet far outweigh the negatives. I am especially amazed at the transformation Jamie Deetscreek has made. Both teams performed well. If this helps us in April, then we learned some valuable lessons."
Baskett was Utah's top all-around finisher, placing second with a 39.45. Georgia's Courtney Kupets won the all-around with a 39.60. Utes Kim (39.375) and Deetscreek (39.275) finished fourth and fifth.
Utah's only individual victories came on the floor, where Kim and DiLuzio tied with Kupets, each with a 9.90.
A disappointed Baskett said after the meet, "We did get a good score, which is important, but we wanted to score higher. We had one mistake on the balance beam, but we hit the rest of our (beam) routines. At least we improved from the first meet, we didn't count a fall and we got a higher score."
Utah drew first blood, taking a 49.40-49.30 lead after the first event, which had the Utes on bars and Georgia on the vault. Performing her first bar routine to count--and her first routine on the road--freshman Stephanie McAllister fell very early in her routine. The freshman's nerves didn't extend to the rest of the lineup. Nina Kim responded with a 9.825 and Deetscreek and Mackie followed with 9.875s. Bijak (9.90) and Baskett (9.925) hit big to give Utah the early edge.
The lead disintegrated on the second event when Utah lost tenths on every landing. Not one gymnast stuck a dismount, resulting in a series of 9.80-9.85 scores, with Baskett again finishing the set with the best score--a 9.85. Georgia got big routines from its last three gymnasts on the bars--including a 9.975 from anchor Courtney Kupets--to take the lead 98.750-98.450 after two rotations.
Kim and DiLuzio both received 9.90 scores for their floor routines on the next rotation to push Utah back into a tie at 147.775. Kim, who fell on her floor routine in Utah's first meet against UCLA, and DiLuzio tied for first on the event. Other big scorers on the mat were Bijak (9.875). Baskett, another who fell a week ago, scored a 9.85.