Going into the NCAA Regional on Saturday, April 5 the Utah Utes Gymnastics team had a 197.925 at the Pac-12 Championships -- its highest team score since a win over No. 6 Georgia.
But this year -- after finishing fifth last year at the NCAA Championships Super Six -- the No. 5 team in the country is ready for more.
The Utes had better be, because this weekend at Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas will not be easy. No. 8 UCLA and No. 17 and host Arkansas lay in wait -- along with in-state rivals Utah State to try to ruin the Utes’ championship aspirations.
Utah must finish in the top two teams to advance to the NCAA Championships later this month -- and a shot at redemption. If it doesn’t, it’s game over for the Utes.
“I think if you’re not excited or don’t have some nerves, you don’t care. If you don’t care, you shouldn’t do this anymore,” Utah coach Greg Marsden said in an interview with the Deseret News on Thursday. "You’re in postseason, everything hinges on one meet. It makes it a little nerve-wracking, but I’m excited about possibilities.”
The possibilities for the Utes are tri-fold: a shot at their 11th national title, a chance to get back on the national stage and prove it can still compete with the best at an elite level.
Utah also has an opportunity for some individual regional titles as well this weekend, because Pac-12 event champions Georgia Dabritz (bars, floor), Tory Wilson (all-around) and Nansy Damianova (floor) are legitimate threats to win it all.
In all, the Utes have nothing to lose this weekend -- and plenty to gain with a great performance in Arkansas.
Watch the NCAA Regionals Saturday, April 5 at 3 p.m. MDT on live stream and receive live scores on arkansasrazorbacks.com.