Utah, Brigham Young to start NCAA Championships on bars

Gymnastics -
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It is getting to the point where the University of Utah gymnastics team shouldn't even bother asking what rotation it gets in the random drawings in the postseason. It should just know it's going to start on the uneven bars.

Utah, which started on bars last year at nationals and Saturday in the regional competition, was given the same start for the NCAA Championships, April 21-23 in Auburn, Ala.

Brigham Young University, making its first appearance in the NCAAs since 2000, will also start on bars, but after a bye.

In another random drawing, Utah was placed in the afternoon session with Nebraska, Michigan, Penn State, Oklahoma and LSU. BYU is in the evening session with UCLA, Iowa State, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

The top three teams from each session then advance to the Super Six session on April 22, when the national champion will be decided.

"We love being in that afternoon session because you get up in the morning, have breakfast, then go compete," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "Then, if you do qualify, you have the whole evening to relax. Competing in that evening rotation, you get done so late, it's hard to sleep."

Utah should like being in that afternoon session for another reason: It looks a little easier. The Utes beat Michigan earlier in the season and barely lost to Nebraska on the Cornhuskers' floor.

The evening session seems more difficult because it has three SEC teams competing in SEC territory, plus defending champ UCLA.

Host school Auburn didn't make the cut for nationals, but the small college town is just a few hours' drive for the SEC schools, and it probably will seem like a home meet for Alabama because of the crowd.

"We're glad to be where we are," Marsden said. "But it is very even this year; each session has four very good teams that could easily make it into the finals."