Utes close out NCAA gymnastics season

Apr 21 2013 - 11:52pm

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Alex Gallardo/The Associated Press 
Utah’s Georgia Dabritz competes in the uneven parallel bars event during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics individual championship on Sunday in Los Angeles. Dabritz finished second in the event.
ALEX GALLARDO/The Associated Press 
Utah’s Nansy Damianova competes in the floor exercise event during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics individual championship on Sunday in Los Angeles. Damianova finished eighth in the event.
Alex Gallardo/The Associated Press 
Utah’s Georgia Dabritz competes in the uneven parallel bars event during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics individual championship on Sunday in Los Angeles. Dabritz finished second in the event.
ALEX GALLARDO/The Associated Press 
Utah’s Nansy Damianova competes in the floor exercise event during the NCAA college women’s gymnastics individual championship on Sunday in Los Angeles. Damianova finished eighth in the event.

LOS ANGELES -- Florida's Bridget Sloan won the balance beam and teammate Alaina Johnson won the uneven bars as the Gators continued to dominate the NCAA women's gymnastics championships Sunday.

Sloan, who was ranked No. 2 on the balance beam, defeated Katie Zurales of Michigan and Hanna Nordquist of Minnesota, who each scored 9.8875.

Johnson, who had been out nearly three months with a stress fracture in her back, scored a 9.9125. Sloan and Georgia Dabritz of Utah each scored 9.90.

In the vault, Diandra Milliner of Alabama and Rheagan Courville of LSU tied for first with a score of 9.925. UCLA's Olivia Courtney was third at 9.9167.

Joanna Sampson of Michigan won the floor exercise with a score of 9.9375. Milliner was second with a 9.9250.

Dabritz is a sophomore. Nansy Damianova placed eighth on floor (9.875) and ninth on bars (9.8125), and Tory Wilson tied for eighth on vault (9.8917).

Dabritz's runner-up finish on bars is Utah's best individual event finish since 2008, when Ashley Postell placed second on beam and Kristina Baskett was second on vault. It is Utah's best bar finish since Baskett won the 2006 NCAA bar championship.

"It's pretty amazing that score held up," marveled Dabritz, who was the first performer of the night and had to wait through nine other competitors on bars before securing her silver medal. "Second place is great. I'm more than happy. Tying an Olympian (Sloan) isn't bad either," she laughed. Florida's Alaina Johnson won the event with a 9.9125.

"I thought Georgia's score might hold up since it was a very good routine," said Utah coach Greg Mardsden. "This was a big step forward for Georgia. I was really impressed with how well she handled (event finals) this year compared to a year ago. She has matured a lot."

Dabritz, who competed in vault finals last year as a freshman said, "This year was more fun because I learned to enjoy it."

Competing in event finals for the first time in her career, junior Damianova said, "There was no team pressure so it was kind of different. It was great to come back and compete (after Utah failed to advance to team finals) because I like competing."

Wilson flew high and far on her vault, but couldn't control popping off the mat. She came directly down in an otherwise perfect landing, but the flaw kept her from scoring higher. "I liked competing today a lot," said Wilson. "It was fun." Asked about the issue with the mat, she said, "I don't what happened. I think it was just one of those things. I just vaulted and that's how it landed."

Utah will return all 13 members from this year's NCAA championships' qualifier next year, including nine All-Americans -- two whom who missed most or all of this season with injuries (Corrie Lothrop and Kailah Delaney). The returning All-Americans for next season (career All-America awards in parentheses) are: Lothrop (5), Dabritz (3), Damianova (2), Wilson (2), Delaney (1), Hailee Hansen (1), Breanna Hughes (1), Mary Beth Lofgren (1) and Becky Tutka (1).

Lothrop, Dabritz, Damianova, Delaney, Lofgren and Wilson are all first-team All-Americans, while Hansen, Hughes and Tutka are second-team honorees. Including regular season All-America honors -- an award that began this year -- Dabritz is a four-time All-American, Wilson owns three awards and Tutka two.

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