LOS ANGELES -- The Utes' roller-coaster season ended on a downward sweep.
The Utah gymnastics team struggled all season on the balance beam and tonight it cost them a berth in the Super Six for the first time since 1999 during Friday's qualifying action at the NCAA women's gymnastics championships.
The Utes, who were less than a tenth of a point out of first place entering the final event, dropped all the way to fifth after two falls and a near fall off the beam.
Alabama won the semifinal with a 197.350, followed by Oklahoma (197.200) and UCLA (197.200), Michigan (196.850), Utah (196.200) and Arkansas (196.150).
Including scores from the afternoon semifinal, Utah will finish in ninth place overall. It is the program's worst finish at a national championships since 1977, when Utah also placed ninth.
Ironically, the Utes went into the beam on a roll, fresh off their second-best bar score ever at an NCAA Championships. Utes had three of the event's top five finishers, with Georgia Dabritz (9.95) tying for first, Nansy Damianova (9.925) tying for third and Hailee Hansen (9.90) tying for fifth.
Not only a berth in the Super Six, but even first place, was in reach heading into the final rotation, when just .075 separated the top four teams and Utah trailed then third-place Alabama by a mere five-hundredths of a point.
Utah, which qualified for a record 38th straight national championship and is the only team to make all 32 NCAA Championships, couldn't capitalize on their magnificent 49.475 bar set, instead failing to make the Super Six.
"Well shoot," said Utah coach Greg Marsden after his team's meltdown on the beam. "We thought beam would determine how we would do. It was such a roller coaster (event) all year. We knew how close (the meet) was and that it was going to be tough finishing on beam. I hope we can learn from our mistakes. We will focus on beam early in the offseason. We got off to a rocky start this year on beam and sometimes it is hard to turn that around."
Three Utes qualified for individual event championships, which will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. MDT. Damianova will make her first appearance in finals on both bars (9.925) and floor (9.925), Dabritz is in finals for the second year in a row, this time on bars (9.95), and Tory Wilson will make her event final debut on vault (9.90). All three are first-team All-Americans and Dabritz, who placed third in the evening session and seventh overall, is also a first-team All-America all-arounder.
Olympian Bridget Sloan helped Florida lead the six qualifiers for the team finals in the NCAA women's gymnastics championships Friday at Pauley Pavilion.
Florida topped the afternoon session with 197.775 points. LSU was second in the first session with 197.325 points, and Georgia had 197.150 to take the third spot in the finals Saturday.
Two-time defending national champion Alabama won the night session at 197.350, Oklahoma was second at 197.200, and UCLA third at 197.200.
Sloan, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, had an all-around score of 39.600, the best in both sessions. She had marks of 9.875 in the vault, 9.925 in the bars, 9.900 on the beam, and 9.900 in floor exercise.
The individual event finals are Sunday.
Stanford and Iowa also advanced Friday night in the second qualifying session. Michigan, Oklahoma and defending champion Illinois moved on from the early session Friday.
Air Force, Nebraska and Minnesota failed to advance from the afternoon session.
Third-ranked Michigan scored 443.850 points, 10 better than No. 2 Oklahoma. Seventh-ranked Illinois was third with 426.900.
The NCAA is using a five-up, five-count format instead of the six-up four-count used in past championship events. Five gymnasts per team compete in each of the six events and all scores count.