(Photo: Nick Wicksman/WCSN)
Two Pac-12 teams competed in the NCAA Team Finals Saturday night at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, but it was the Florida Gators of the SEC who walked out victorious for the third straight year.
The Utah Utes and the Stanford Cardinal each earned a berth in the Super Six after Friday’s semifinal.
Stanford led the Pac-12 into the meet, finishing the first rotation with a 48.875 on floor which was the lowest score of the first rotation. However, freshman Elizabeth Price continued to shine, receiving a 9.900 on her routine. For their second rotation, the Cardinal moved on to the vault and redeemed themselves with a 49.250 behind another strong performance by Price, who scored a 9.950 with a strong vault and a stuck landing.
Stanford’s senior Ivana Hong earned the second highest score of the night on bars with a 9.950 in the third rotation. For its final rotation, Stanford took to the beam. The Cardinal got off of a rough start as sophomore Nicolette McNair fell off early, leaving her with a score of 9.250. Her team rose to the challenge, however, as Price, senior Becky Wing, and redshirt senior Kristina Vaculik each contributed a 9.900, Vaculik’s featuring a dismount with a double twist and a stuck landing. Hong finished the job with a nearly perfect routine, scoring a 9.975 with a graceful performance marked by a series of balletic landings throughout the routine. The Cardinal ended its meet with 197.250 points for fifth place in the final.
Utah got its bye out of the way in the first rotation, starting the night with the second rotation on the uneven bars. The Utes scored a 49.575 as senior Georgia Dabritz set the pace by becoming the first gymnast in history to earn a 10.000 on bars in both semi and team finals.
Next, the Utes approached the balance beam where the team gave an extremely consistent performance as five out of six gymnasts scored between 9.825 and 9.875. On the fourth rotation Utah was on floor. The team remained consistent with every gymnast scoring a 9.800 or higher. Senior Becky Tutka gave a notably energetic performance to lead the team with a 9.925, supported by Dabritz whose routine included a triple twist on the final pass which earned her a 9.900. On their last rotation Utah was on the vault. Dabritz was the last gymnast to compete for the team closing out with a 9.975 with a soaring vault and a stuck landing.
The meet came down to a dramatic ending as Florida took home its third NCAA championship in a row after the final two Gators each scored 9.950 on bars to push the team score to 197.850, beating Utah by 0.050 in a heartbreaking finish for the Utes.
“Tonight was special,” Utah coach Greg Marsden said. “The only thing that could’ve made it better was one more tenth of a point.”
The Pac-12 had a strong showing from its individual competitors, occupying the leaderboard in three of the four disciplines. Dabritz had the top score in vault with a 9.975 and on bars with a 10.000. Stanford’s Ivana Hong’s score on the beam was the best of the night at 9.975.
The individual competition continues on Sunday at 2 p.m. with the all around competition.
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