FORT WORTH, Texas -- Utah charged into the Super Six by finishing in a tie with two-time defending NCAA champion Florida for first place in Friday afternoon's semifinal at the NCAA Championships. Utah's 197.475 was its best score ever in an NCAA Championships and the Utes won their semifinal session for the first time since 2007.
Utah, Florida and Stanford (197.175) advance to Saturday night's Super Six. Rounding out the hotly-contested session were Michigan (197.025), Georgia (196.600) and UCLA (196.400). The advancing trio will meet the three top teams from Saturday night's semifinal for the national championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The meet will be live streamed on ESPN3.Utah's improbable climb from the 12th and final seed into nationals to a tie for first in its semifinal, had an interesting beginning. On the Utes' first event, Georgia Dabritz fell as Utah's No. 2 competitor on the balance beam. It knocked the sensational senior out of the all-around competition, but it didn't knock her or the Utes out of the meet. After her teammates rallied for a strong finish on beam, Dabritz rallied for a spectacular finish to the meet.
On Utah's next event, she tied for second on floor with a 9.925, followed by a 9.90 vault. In Utah's final routine of the day, she nailed a perfect 10.0 on the bars. Needing a 49.05 to tie Michigan for the third and final spot, Utah's No. 1 nationally-ranked bar team exploded for a 49.50 -- its best score of the day -- to pass Stanford and move into a tie with Florida.
Building momentum for Dabritz's perfect 10.0 -- Utah's first perfect score at an NCAA Championship -- was a season-best 9.85 score by Breanna Hughes, a 9.85 by Tiffani Lewis, a 9.825 by Baely Rowe and back-to-back 9.90s by Kassandra Lopez and Corrie Lothrop.
"[The meet] didn't start out the way I wanted or planned," said Dabritz, who won the AAI Award two days earlier as the nation's top senior gymnast, of her fall on beam. "But I had to turn my head quickly for the team. One of our goals was to make it back into the Super Six and we gave it our all."
"On the first event, Georgia had the mishap, but I told her to come roaring back and she did," Utah coach Megan Marsden said. "When Tory [Wilson] got hurt [at the Pac-12 Championships], Georgia took on a more vocal leadership role. Sometimes when you are concentrating on the team doing well, you can forget to take care of yourself."
Wilson, the 2014 Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year and Utah's top-ranked all-arounder at No. 9 in the nation, rolled around with her teammates in a wheelchair, necessitated by surgeries to both feet.
Utah qualified for the Super Six for the 19th time in school history, the first time since 2012.
"This team was very determined, especially after our performance at regionals," Marsden said. "We were fortunate just to slide in [to nationals], coming in with the 12th-best score of the 12 teams. Without Tory, our team went through some emotions and had a tough time getting back up for regionals. We bounced back after regionals in practice and I'm proud of our athletes for coming back from a difficult situation."