Gymnastics: Utah makes few errors to win 4-team meet

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Utah's ninth-ranked gymnastics team has been behind No. 8 Oregon State in the rankings all season long. But put them on the same floor, and the Utes proved they are just a little ahead of their Pac-10 rivals.

The Utes scored a season high 196.975 to beat Oregon State (196.65), No. 21 Southern Utah (196.025) and No. 18 Penn State (195.7) Friday in front of 14,411 at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes (10-2) scheduled the four-team meet to give it a little taste of what to expect when it hosts the NCAA regional championships on April 10.

It got the atmosphere plus the competition as the Beavers nearly spoiled the Utes' home meet.

Unlike past meets when they've made mistakes to put themselves in precarious situations -- the Utes made few errors Friday -- Oregon State (12-3) was simply a strong-enough team to give the Utes all they could handle.

That they won was an indication they aren't in as such a dire situation as they seemed to be in only a few weeks ago, said senior Daria Bijak, who won the all-around with a career best 39.575. SUU's Elise Wheeler was second with a 39.5.

"We are getting closer to the team we actually can be," Bijak said. "It's not just saying that. We can compete with Georgia, UCLA and the other really good teams. Tonight we proved we are moving in the right direction. We can be there. It's not over yet."

Utah opened well with a 49.325 on the vault, then stormed through the uneven bars and balance beam with only a couple mistakes. Still, despite the good performances, the Utes were ahead of the Beavers by just 0.2 points going to floor.

Just like last week, when the Utes had to come from behind on the floor to beat Nebraska and responded with a season high 49.425 on the event, the Utes answered the challenge again Friday.

Utah scored a 49.4 on the floor, led by a 9.95 from Annie DiLuzio.

"I think we are building confidence," DiLuzio said. "We had mistakes tonight, and even though that happens, we still came back strong after that. We didn't crumble after that."

Bijak delivered her career night by scoring a 9.95 on the bars, 9.925 on the floor, 9.9 on the vault and 9.8 on the balance beam. Bijak, who was sick all week and not even sure she could compete on the floor, was happiest with her vault because she finally stuck it instead of taking a step back as she normally does.

"I've wanted to stick it in front of this crowd," she said. "It finally happened so I'm ready to retire," she joked.

SUU overtook Penn State on their final events as the T-birds (8-4) scored a 49.1 on the uneven bars while the Lady Lions (13-7) finished with a 48.675 on the balance beam.

Individual winners

All-around » Daria Bijak (Utah) 39.575

Vault » Annie DiLuzio (Utah) and Becky Colvin (Oregon State) 9.925

Uneven bars » Daria Bijak (Utah) 9.95

Balance beam » Kyndal Robarts (Utah) and Sharaya Musser (Penn St.) 9.9

Floor » Annie DiLuzio (Utah) 9.95


In short » Daria Bijak scores a career-high 39.575 in the all-around to lead the Utes to a victory over three teams.

Key moment » Kyndal Robarts scores a 9.9 on the floor to clinch the win.