Jan. 23, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY -The largest gymnastics crowd in Utah and NCAA history turned out to see the two most successful programs in the country and Utah and Georgia did not disappoint. In a meet that went down to the final routine, Utah eked out a 196.550-196.500 victory over the five-time defending NCAA champion GymDogs.

The over-capacity crowd of 15,552 was on the edge of its seat after an impressive Georgia beam set ate away at the tenuous 0.25 advantage held by Utah at the start of the final rotation. When normally high-scoring Jamie Deetscreek and Kyndal Robarts received puzzling 9.75 and 9.725 scores, respectively, the chance for a Ute win seemed to be slipping away.

But anchor Annie DiLuzio's clutch 9.875 routine as Utah's final performer was just enough for the Utes to beat its cross-country rival for the first time in two years-and for just the second time in the last 14 meetings.

After the meet, Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden claimed he would have been happy with his team's performance even had it not won the meet, given its performance. "I was ready for the outcome to go either way. It was unpredictable going into the last routine. Even if it had gone the other way, I would have felt good. We still have a long way to go, but we improved again (from the last meet). If we keep that up for the next 10 weeks, we'll be a pretty good team," said Marsden.

Senior Daria Bijak won the all-around with a 39.375, beating teammates Deetscreek (39.325) and Robarts (39.275). Georgia did not field an all-arounder. Bijak also won the floor exercise by producing a career-best 9.95, while Robarts hit a career-high to win the vault (9.95).

 

 

Utah took the lead first in the see-saw battle, scoring a season-best 49.325 on vault to Georgia's 49.250 on the bars. The Ute vault set was highlighted by career highs by Beth Rizzo (9.85) and Robarts (9.95). Robarts, who threw her second picture perfect vault in two weeks, received a 10.0 from one judge. DiLuzio set her up with a 9.875.

On bars, Utah finally reached 49.00 after two weeks at 48.85, but it wasn't enough to hold on to the lead, as Georgia scored a 49.250 on vault. After two rotations, the Bulldogs led 98.400-98.325. Bijak led the set with a season-tying 9.85 after trying out a new release move with a nifty grip switch.

Things looked grim when leadoff Stephanie McAllister fell off the beam, but not for long as her five "beammates" responded by nailing their sets. Cortni Beers started the comeback with a career-best 9.80, followed by a 9.825 by DiLuzio. Deettscreek scored a 9.90 for the second straight week, Bijak went 9.75 and Robarts returned from an injury that kept her out of the beam lineup last Friday and sealed Utah's 49.100 set with a 9.825. Coupled with a fall and steps out of bounds by UGA, the Utes took at 147.425-147.175 lead into the final rotation.

Then it was Georgia's turn to make a run. The GymDogs put up the best score on any event of the evening, scoring a 49.325 on the beam, and Utah's lead rapidly disappeared. Bijak's 9.95 and DiLuzio's 9.875 proved just enough for Utah to hold on in the end.

Utah improved to 2-1, while Georgia fell to 1-2--all against top 10 opponents. Utah is on the road for the next two weeks at Washington and Arizona State.