Utah gymnastics • Third-place finish in Pac-12 likely to result in tough road.
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Corvallis, Ore • Shortly after three below-average routines cost Utah an opportunity to win the Pac-12 Championships, Utah's Lia Del Priore tried to make the best of the situation by noting the Utes still earned a good mark to help their regional qualifying score.
However, it wasn't good enough for the Utes to avoid what is projected to be a difficult NCAA regional seeding.
The Utes could be sent back to SEC country by the NCAA committee for the April 6 competition if projections are correct and Utah is placed in the regional hosted by Alabama, the two-time defending NCAA champion.
Utah's last venture to SEC country didn't turn out so well with the Utes losing at Georgia 197.65-196.975.
Only the top two teams from each of the six regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships hosted by UCLA on April 19-21.
The regional fields will be announced by the NCAA committee at 1 p.m. Monday.
Other schools hosting regionals are Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon State and West Virginia.
Before Saturday's conference meet, the Utes thought they might be headed to Ohio State or West Virginia, but the conference results skewed the rankings as many of the lower-ranked teams posted big scores.
Among the movers was Oregon State, which won the Pac-12 with a season-best 197.85. UCLA was second with a 197.375, followed by Utah (197.075), Stanford (196.625), Washington (195.875), Arizona (195.525), Cal (195.075) and Arizona State (193.425).
Florida won the SEC with a 198, its highest score in the SEC Championships, while Alabama was second with a 197.8 and LSU was third with a 197.7.
Nebraska won the Big Ten with a 197.8 and second-place Michigan also scored high with a 197.225.
Oklahoma won the Big 12 with a 197.2, and Boise State won the WAC with a 196.225. Utah State finished fourth in the WAC with a 194.925 and SUU was fifth with a 194.925.
No matter where they go, the Utes know they can't afford to make mistakes like they did Saturday and expect to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Leading Oregon State 148.25-148.175 going into the final rotation, Utah slipped to third in the final standings when Georgia Dabritz fell and scored 9.4 and Becky Tutka (9.625) and Breanna Hughes (9.7) both had breaks.
Beam has been an issue for the Utes this season, coach Greg Marsden acknowledged.
Utah's beam score of 48.825 was the first time the Utes were below the 49 mark in seven meets.
"It is too bad," he said. "It is hard to close out on that event, and at times we have been able to do that this year, but not tonight," he said. "We were competing to stay on the beam. It is hard to be upset because we didn't count a fall, but we did everything but fall in some of the routines. We had some little hops on bars too but those were little things."
Nansy Damianova remained optimistic the Utes could do well despite the beam woes.
"We have struggled some in the meets on beam and in the next meet we come back and do better," she said. "Hopefully that is something that will happen again."