Gymnastics: Baskett, Bijak up for individual honors

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The Utes survived Thursday's emotional tiebreaker with UCLA and gave it their best effort Friday in the team finals.

Now, here comes the hard part for senior Kristina Baskett and junior Daria Bijak.

The two qualified for today's event finals, meaning they have to go out and do their routines for a third day in a row.

It's a tough thing to ask a gymnast to do, which is why individual night is as much about a gymnast's endurance as talent.

Baskett qualified on the vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Bijak qualified on the floor.

"It won't be hard to compete again," Baskett said. "I can't wait to go out there and represent Utah and do my routines one more time again."

Baskett's best chance for a national title probably is the bars, where she is ranked No. 2 behind Georgia's Courtney Kupets.

The two shared the title when they were freshmen. Baskett finished fourth on the event in 2007 and sixth last season.

Baskett also finished second on the vault last year and is tied with Kupets, the 2007 vaulting champion, in the rankings at No. 2.

"She has two good vaults; it's just a matter of who can stick them," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "She has as good a chance as anybody."

Also qualifying for vault finals were UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa, who is ranked No. 1 on the event, and LSU's Susan Jackson, the defending national champion.

Bijak, who has one of the most unique tumbling passes in college gymnastics, qualified for an event final for just the second time. In 2007, she finished eighth on the uneven bars.

She scored a 9.9 on the floor in Thursday's preliminary competition, which was just shy of her career-best 9.925.

"I finally thought she was rewarded for her big amplitude," Marsden said. "We've been frustrated with the judging this year for Daria, but at this point we've accepted it and decided to appreciate her gymnastics for what she can do."

Southern Utah's Elise Wheeler qualified on the balance beam and the uneven bars.