Utah gymnastics: Utes confident going into regionals

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Utah senior Nina Kim claims she and her teammates on Utah's second-ranked gymnastics team are remaining humble as they head into their NCAA West regional championship tonight.

However, the fact is it's hard to sound humble and still be honest about the Utes' chances of advancing to the NCAA Championships on April 16-18 in Lincoln, Neb.

The Utes have never missed the cut for the NCAAs since gymnastics became a varsity sport in 1975-76. To advance, all the Utes have to do is finish in the top two tonight.

Considering that the third-seeded team, Illinois, has a season high of just 196.75, a mark the Utes have fallen below only twice this season, the Utes should qualify easily barring a huge disaster.

If there is one thing this 2009 team has avoided this season, it's disastrous meets as mistakes have been isolated and quickly covered by other gymnasts.

They're humble, yes, but realistic too.

"We're not saying it isn't going to be any competition," Kim said. "But we've worked hard to get to this point and we should be able to hit all our routines and just do what we've done all year long and get into nationals."

The Utes have been forced to count a fall only once this season, on Feb. 6 when Annie DiLuzio and Daria Bijak both fell off the balance beam.

"We've proven ourselves in meets this season," senior Kristina Baskett said. "Practice has still been light and we know how to have fun at meets. We're excited to go in there and show what we can do."

The one thing the Utes haven't done is proved themselves in a big meet such as regionals. The majority of the other teams competing tonight to get to nationals at least have the experience of competing at conference championships a week ago.

Since the Utes are without a conference, they're without that experience. However, coach Greg Marsden doesn't see it as too much of a negative.

"We didn't have the anxiety of having to do that either," he said. "You can look at it both ways. But if we were in a conference, I'd say I'd like that, too."

As average as the Utes could probably be and advance, they'd like to avoid a mediocre meet heading into nationals.

The Utes have been ranked in the top three all season and held the No. 1 ranking for three weeks and they want a big score tonight to earn a high seed at nationals. Teams are seeded by their national qualifying score, the combination of their regional score plus their regional qualifying score.

The Utes hope they can deliver one last big meet to show they are a real contender for the NCAA title.

"We definitely want to go in with a bang," sophomore Kyndal Robarts said. "We want to own up to our reputation and if we go in and do our job, we'll be good."


West Region at a glance


National rank » 2

RQS » 197.19

High score » 197.8

Top all-arounder » Kristina Baskett (39.675)


National rank » 11

RQS » 196.41

High score » 196.575

Top all-arounder » Lindsey Puckett (39.6)


National rank » 14

RQS » 196.015

High score » 196.75

Top all-arounder » Kelsey Joannides (39.375)

Boise State

National rank » 19

RQS » 195.59

High score » 196.525

Top all-arounder » Lindsay Kazandjian (38.925)


National rank » NR

RQS » 194.81

High score » 196.0

Top all-arounder » Hatsune Akaogi (38.9)

San Jose State

National rank » NR

RQS » 194.775

High score » 195.4

Top all-arounder » Thomasina Wallace (39.375)

NCAA West Region

Utah vs. Auburn, Illinois, Boise State, Washington, San Jose State

At Bank of America Arena, Seattle

Start » Today, 7 p.m. MDT

Live scoring » utahutes.com

Elsewhere » SUU competes as the fifth seed in the South Central regional at Arkansas against No. 4 Stanford, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 16 Michigan, No. 25 Arizona and Arizona State. ... BYU junior Kaylee Gallup qualified as an individual on the balance beam and will compete at the North Central regional at Iowa. ... Utah State qualified five to regionals with Nicki Felley and Lyndsie Boone competing in the all-around at Iowa and Jackie Dillon (vault), Nicole Simoneau (bars) and Erica Huelsmann (floor) competing in individual events.