Gymnastics: BYU, SUU joining Utah in North Central Region

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As one of six teams playing host to the NCAA gymnastics regionals, the University of Utah knew it would be staying home.

Monday, Brigham Young University and Southern University learned they would be staying in the state, too, as part of the North Central Region field at the Huntsman Center.

Utah State, ranked No. 16, was seeded into the Central Region hosted by Alabama.

The NCAA Regional Championships are April 9. The top two finishers, plus individual event winners and the top two all-around competitors not associated with one of the top two teams, all advance to the NCAA Championships April 21 through 23 in Auburn, Ala.

Joining top-ranked Utah, No. 13 BYU and No. 22 SUU in Salt Lake City will be No. 12 Oregon State, No. 20 Minnesota and Iowa.

Utah, which has won five regional titles in a row, isn't just looking to qualify. With its top ranking and being healthy as it is deep, Utah is in prime position to win its first national title since 1995.

"We're really not concerned who is coming here, because we have a good enough team we don't need to be, unless we don't show up," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "Oregon State and BYU are both capable teams, our meets went down to the last event, but as long as we do what we've been doing, we should be fine."

With Rachel Tidd returning to the all-around and no one else with any significant injuries, Utah is as healthy as it has been going into the push for the championship for several years.

"I like the spirit of this team; we're in a really good place," Marsden said. "We just have one more month to keep up the enthusiasm and intensity."

With just two meets in a month, Utah will back off and go a bit lighter in practice.

"It's nice, we can take a step back and concentrate on the little things," senior Annabeth Eberle said. "It can get a little boring, we just have to stay motivated."

The Aggies, who won their first Western Gymnastics Conference title Friday, are stuck in a difficult region with fourth-ranked Alabama, ninth-ranked Iowa State and No. 21 Auburn.

Alabama, which finished third at the SEC championships Saturday behind Georgia and LSU, should be almost as much of a lock for the NCAA Championships as the Utes. The battle for second will be interesting, especially because the Tigers are playing host to the NCAA Championships and won't want to miss their own party.

Second-ranked UCLA, which won the Pac-10 title Saturday, was sent to the West Region and third-ranked LSU is in the Northeast region.

In the final individual rankings, also released Monday, Utah's Ashley Postell is fourth in the all-around and first on the balance beam, Nicolle Ford is sixth in the all-around and fifth on the balance beam. Annabeth Eberle is seventh in the all-around and eighth on the vault and floor, and Rachel Tidd is third on the uneven bars.

BYU's Dayna Smart is tied for ninth on the balance beam.


North Central Region (University of Utah, host)

Teams: 1. Utah; 2. Oregon State; 3. Brigham Young; 4. Minnesota; 5. Southern Utah; 6. Iowa.

West Region (University of Washington, host)

Teams: 1. UCLA; 2. Penn State; 3. Central Michigan; 4. Washington; 5. Stanford; 6. Boise State.

South Central Region (University of Nebraska, host)

Teams: 1. Nebraska; 2. Michigan; 3. Arizona; 4. Missouri; 5. Arizona State; 6. Illinois.

Central Region (University of Alabama, host)

Teams: 1. Alabama; 2. Iowa State; 3. Utah State; 4. Auburn; 5. Kentucky; 6. Kent State.

Northeast Region (University of New Hampshire, host)

Teams: 1. LSU; 2. Oklahoma; 3. Arkansas; 4. New Hampshire; 5. Rutgers; 6. Pittsburgh.

Southeast Region (University of Florida, host)

Teams: 1. Georgia; 2. Florida; 3. Denver; 4. North Carolina; 5. West Virginia; 6. North Carolina State.

NCAA regionals

Along with the Utes, BYU and SUU will compete at the North Central Regional on April 9.