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Ute gymnasts take 3rd at NCAA Championships



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Press ReleaseLINCOLN, Neb. -- Locked in a virtual dead heat for first place after three events, the Utah gymnastics team settled for third when the chalk dust cleared at the NCAA Championships.

The Utes, who bounced back from a rough qualifying round on Thursday, trailed leader Georgia by less than a tenth of a point after three events. But, even while hitting six solid bar routines at the end, the Utes couldn't get the scores to keep pace with Georgia and Alabama.

Georgia won its fifth straight title, scoring a 197.825, followed by Alabama (197.575), Utah (197.425), Florida (196.725), Arkansas (196.475) and LSU (196.375). It was a bittersweet finish for the Utes, who made the gold their goal all season, but who gave otherwise all-SEC field all it could handle.

Seniors Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim finished a magnificent run as Ute teammates, adding a bronze team medal to three second-place finishes. Baskett has one night of competition left, having qualified for individual event finals on vault, bars and beam. She and Daria Bijak, who made the floor finals, will represent Utah on Saturday.

Baskett led a quartet of Ute all-arounders, scoring a 39.625 in her final all-around appearance. While all-around and individual standings are not kept in the Super Six, Baskett's score topped the 39.60 that earned her an NCAA runner-up finish last night. Jamie Deetscreek finished with a 39.475, followed closely by Kim (39.425). Bijak, who fell off the beam, scored a 38.90.

Baskett also provided Utah's top apparatus finishes, tying for second on vault and bars and third on beam. Kim's heroics included a 9.90 vault immediately following a rare fall by Kyndal Robarts. Kim's vault ignited finishers Annie DiLuzio and Baskett, who scored a 9.925 and 9.95 to finish the set.

The Utes started the night on the balance beam—the event that nearly kept them from making the team finals just a night before. This time around, Utah fared much better on the beam, although Ute fans were left scratching their heads over deductions on routines by Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim.

The front end of the lineup not only stayed on the beam, it excelled. Kyndal Robarts led off with a 9.80, and Gael Mackie and Deetscreek redeemed themselves from falls on Thursday by scoring a 9.775 and 9.875, respectively. When Daria Bijak fell in the middle of the lineup, Baskett and Kim needed to stay aboard. They did that and more, with Baskett performing a beautiful routine that received a puzzling 9.875 and Kim following with another beauty that drew a disappointing 9.85.

After one rotation, Georgia and Alabama were tied at 49.425, followed by Arkansas (49.250) and Utah (49.175). Utah left the floor on a bye and Florida and LSU made their Super Six entrance.

Utah ramped it up a notch on the floor on the next round. Deetscreek opened with a 9.85 and Robarts went 9.825 before the Utes really took off. Bijak bounced back from her beam miscue with a 9.90, Kim scored a 9.875, Baskett a 9.90 and DiLuzio—who fell during the preliminary round—responded with a team-best 9.925. Utah's floor total was a 49.450 and its two-event total was 98.625.

At the midway point, here's how it looked: Alabama (98.750) in first, Utah and Georgia tied for second (98.625), Arkansas and LSU tied for fourth (98.575) and Florida in sixth (98.350).

If floor was very good, then vault was great for the Utes, who scored a 49.525—their best score on any event during the championship. Bijak led off with a 9.85 and Deetscreek landed a career-high 9.90. Robarts fell in the middle of the lineup, but not to worry. Kim let loose a 9.90, DiLuzio powered to a 9.925 and anchor Baskett nailed a 9.95.

After another rotation, when every team had done at least three events, Utah was in second, just half a tenth behind Georgia. Going into the last event, here were the standings: Georgia (148.200), Utah (148.150), Alabama (148.075), Florida (147.725), LSU (197.675) and Arkansas (147.550).

But while Utah was sitting out on its final bye, Georgia exploded for a 49.625 on the vault, and when the Utes came back, Alabama passed them by on the floor.

The Utes didn't give it up without a fight, hitting all six bar routines, led by Baskett's 9.90 at the end, but a string of 9.80-9.85 scores could not match the big scores awarded to Georgia and Alabama in the deciding round.

(Courtesy UofU Athletic Department)

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