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Utah gymnastics: Lee's impressive floor routine at Georgia creates tough choices for coaches

Published March 16, 2017 1:24 pm

Utah gymnastics • Floor routine against Georgia increases depth at Pac-12 meet.
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Utah's gymnastics coaches finally relented to Kari Lee's requests and gave her a chance to compete on the floor at Georgia. Thanks to her 9.875 effort, Lee has put the coaches in quite a conundrum as the Utes prepare for Saturday's Pac-12 Championships at Stanford.

Utah's coaches must decide whether to keep Lee in the floor lineup or stick with the lineups they settled on before the Georgia meet.

Keeping Lee in the lineup likely would mean MaKenna Merrell, Missy Reinttadtler or Macey Roberts would be out. Lee went in place of senior Baely Rowe at Georgia, but the Utes plan to keep Rowe in the floor lineup in the postseason.

So what to do? Coach Megan Marsden admits the decision isn't an easy one.

"Kari has been pulling on our sleeve wanting a chance to prove that she was ready for the floor, and it was a great moment for her," Marsden said. "She has us thinking. Do we make that adjustment?"

The Utes were hesitant to use Lee in the floor lineup earlier in the season because she was recovering from the Achilles tendon tear she suffered on the event last year.

However, she obviously is recovered, and the Utes must score every tenth they can to win titles.

The advantage of using Lee is she is a veteran who can earn high marks under pressure. On the other hand, the Utes know what they can get from the others, and there is the question of whether it is worth the risk of injury to Lee by including her in the floor lineup.

What is making the decision even more difficult is that Lee not only is capable of performing floor routines, but she probably is better than she was her freshman year, Marsden said.

"I think in the time off she thought a lot about it and what she needed to do to improve herself," Marsden said. "She wasn't able to do a lot of the training because of the injury, but to make drastic changes, she thought a lot about the technique."

Lee has been contributing on the other three events almost all season, but she said competing on the floor was her goal to prove she is as good, if not better, than she was before the injury.

"I know the coaches wanted to keep me back a little bit because the injury was so intense, and I know there was a time when I pushed too much, but floor has always been the make-it-or-break-it event for me," she said. "It's always been in my head to get back on floor."

Lee wouldn't mind staying in the lineup, but she understands if the coaches decide to go back to their other options.

"It would be great to be in there, but they may decide they need me more for regionals and nationals and on the other three events," she said. "I'm glad I'm back. Both Megan and Tom [Farden] thought it would be this March before I would be back, and that is exactly what happened."

Now it's up to the coaches to decide what happens next. —

Pac-12 Championships

When • Saturday

Where • Stanford

Session 1 • California, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, 2 p.m. MDT

Session 2 • UCLA, Utah, Oregon State, Washington, 7 p.m. MDT

TV • Pac-12 Network






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