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Utes advance to Nationals for 48th straight time

Utes advance to Nationals for 48th straight time

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (ABC4 Sports) – It got a little scary at the end, but the Utah gymnastics team is moving on to the NCAA Nationals for the 48th consecutive year.

The #5 Utes are the only team in the nation to qualify for the Nationals in all 48 years.
 
The Red Rocks scored a 197.575 to lock up the second spot in the Gainesville Regional, coming up behind regional champion #4 Florida with a 198.325. Utah would overtake #13 Missouri in the final rotation, as the Utes moved to vault and the Tigers stepped up to the beam for their final performances. Utah would post a 49.500 on vault, while Missouri scored a 49.250 over on beam.

“The thing about this team is they’re fighters,” Utes head coach Carly Dockendorf said. “They will not give up on anything and they fight to the very end.”

Red Rocks advance to NCAA regional final

After a shaky start on bars, Utah relied on the back half of the lineup, starting with a 9.875 from Maile O’Keefe to get the momentum going in the right direction. The Red Rocks would get a rotation-high score of 9.950 from Grace McCallum to keep the energy up. Amelie Morgan and Ella Zirbes scored a pair of 9.825s for the Red Rocks. Makenna Smith opened the bars rotation for the Red Rocks with a 9.500.
 
After the first rotation, Utah found themselves in fourth-place with a score of 48.975, trailing leaders and host Florida by .625. The Gators led the group with an overall score of 49.600, after starting on beam, Missouri was in second-place with a 49.525, and Michigan State in third-place with a 49.425
 
O’Keefe captured the event high for the Utes, scoring a 9.950 on beam. Morgan took to the beam first for Utah, scoring a 9.900 with the first performance. Smith followed with a 9.900 of her own in the second spot of the lineup. Abby Paulson brought the Utes to the middle of the lineup, scoring a 9.850. Jaylene Gilstrap would anchor the beam lineup for the first time since the Red Rocks competed at California, scoring a much-needed 9.875.
 
The Red Rocks moved up one spot overtaking Michigan State for the third-place spot with a team score of 98.450, after beam, scoring 49.650. Florida would maintain the lead with an overall score of 99.250 followed by Missouri in second place with a 98.800. The Spartans moved into fourth place with a score of 98.425.

Red Rocks ready to rock the NCAA Regionals

Coming off her first Regional Floor title, Gilstrap, delivered a 9.950, following Paulson’s 9.950 performance, setting the Utah comeback in motion. Leading the floor lineup, Smith started the party on the floor, scoring a 9.900. McCallum delivered her second 9.9 of the day, with O’Keefe adding a 9.925.
 
The Red Rocks moved up one more spot after their dazzling floor performances, scoring a 49.625. Utah was now deadlocked with Missouri in second place, as the Utes and Tigers both had team scores of 148.075. Florida maintained the sole possession of first place with a score of 148.825. Michigan State remained in fourth with a score of 147.100.

“We knew going to floor, that’s been our strength this whole year,” Dockendorf said. “We just need to go out and do our normal Utah floor routines, and just bring it home on vault. I couldn’t be more proud of this team tonight.”
 
Smith and Jaedyn Rucker delivered back-to-back 9.950 vaults in the fourth and fifth spots of the lineup, as the meet came down to the wire against the Tigers from Missouri, fighting for the second qualifying spot. In her only event of the day, Ashley Glynn would come up with a huge 9.900 on vault when the Red Rocks needed it. McCallum would move into the leadoff spot as the Utes headed over to their final event on vault, scoring a 9.850. Zirbes would add the second 9.850 of the order for the Red Rocks.
 
The Red Rocks remain the only team in the nation to have appeared at every national championship. The quest for an NCAA title begins Thursday, Apr. 18, in Fort Worth, Texas. Utah will compete in the NCAA Semifinal against #1 Oklahoma, #4 Florida and #8 Alabama.

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