Apr 19, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA Utah Utes gymnast Becky Tutka competes in the floor exercise during semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Women

Utah Gymnastics: Consistently Inconsistent


Editor’s Note: This is the first piece from our new gymnastics correspondent, BrittanyG. This kills two birds with one stone in that I’ve both been looking for a woman to write for the blog and someone to cover gymnastics.  Brittany seems excited to do this, so welcome her aboard.  If you’d like to follow her on twitter for both her thoughts on sports and AP Style, you can do so @Fibby1123.

It’s that time again. Football season has ended, the new year has come and gone and now I turn my complaints about the SEC Bias to gymnastics for the next four months.

Saturday night was our first chance this season to see the Red Rocks in competition, and it looks like the problems the team has faced in the last few years will continue to haunt them this year.

By “problems,” I mean BEAM. Every season, Utah’s gymnasts seem to wobble, come off balance and fall on a weekly basis. And if they all manage to stay on the beam, that probably means that at least one person faceplanted on the bars.

The only thing we can say about Utah’s consistency is that they are consistently inconsistent. And that (in)consistency makes the difference between competing in the Super Six and spending the finals sitting on the sidelines.

Utah finished with a 196.650, which puts us in a two-way tie for fourth place in the national rankings. It’s a decent score to start the season, but needs improvement to be competitive at nationals. The top score to beat this season is Oklahoma’s 197.700 (…which leads to a manifesto on score inflation).

Let’s start with the good news after Saturday’s meet:

Vault is, as usual, Utah’s strongest event.

Tory Wilson, who was Utah’s top vaulter last season, took a huge hop and was actually the throwout score with a 9.825. I love seeing that because it means the Utes are FINALLY starting to stick their landings. In a sport where tenths of a point can mean the difference between first and third – in the 2012 National Championship, the difference between first and third was indeed 0.100, and the difference between second and third was only 0.025 – sticking your landings is vital.

Floor was good…not great.

Mary Beth Lofgren continues to have terrible music for her dance style. She is way too boring for the upbeat music she chooses. If we were to give an award for least improved throughout her tenure at the U, Lofgren would be the winner. I’ll give her award after I wake up from the nap I fall into during her routines.

If we were to give an award for most improved, Becky Tutka and Lia del Priore would be neck and neck. I love watching both of their routines. Energetic, great tumbling and perfect music for their dance style.

I absolutely adore watching Nansy Damianova on the floor. She has a European style (thanks, Missy Marlowe for educating me about this) that adds a grace to her performance…and I love it.

There were some rough landings on tumbling passes across the board, something I attribute to it being the beginning of the season. We should see smoother performances as the season goes on.

Corrie Lothrop is back! And so is Kailah Delaney!

CoLo, one of Utah’s top gymnasts, is back after an injury last season. She only competed in two events (bars and beam) and fell off the bars, but I expect her to get stronger as the season goes on.

Kailah Delaney isn’t a headliner for Utah, but offers a consistent high score on her events.

Now the bad news:

Bars…some of the Utes can’t grab them.

Four of Utah’s gymnasts had good bars routines! We got two 9.50s!

But then Nansy Damianova and Corrie Lothrop fell. It’s that consistency problem I was talking about earlier. It isn’t one gymnast who falls every week. It’s always someone (or two someones…or three) different. Utah is awesome at bars as long as they can stay on them. Great release moves, solid routines, usually stuck landings.

(And a shout out to Hailee Hansen for finally learning to not bend her legs on her giant swings!)

Kassandra Lopez is out.

Kassandra injured her Achilles in pre-meet warmups and will be out for the season. She was a consistent score on Utah’s two worst events: beam and bars (Plus her release move on the bars is my favorite two seconds of Utah gymnastics). It’s a loss in a place where Utah can’t handle a loss.

And the ugly:

Beam.

I’ve prepared a short playlist for Utah’s beam performances:

Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie
Gravity – John Mayer
Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I’ll leave it at that for now. I anticipate that I’ll have an entire season to fully explain all the problems I have with the beam…because there will continue to be the same problems on beam all season.

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