Regionals: 12 teams earn national bids; Alabama coach earns 1,000th win
ATHENS, Ga. -- Michigan won an NCAA regional championship for the second consecutive year on Saturday, defeating five other teams inside Stegeman Coliseum to punch its ticket to the NCAA championships for the 21st time in program history. The Wolverines scored 196.750 and will advance to nationals with second-place and host Georgia (196.375), as both teams finished ahead of Central Michigan (195.600), Ohio State (195.100), NC State (194.550) and Rutgers (193.725).
Freshman Nicole Artz, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, won the all-around (39.325), tied for first on balance beam (9.850) and tied for second on floor exercise (9.925). Senior Joanna Sampson claimed top honors on floor exercise (9.950) and was named NCAA Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Baton Rouge Regional
BATON ROUGE, La. -- From the start to the finish third-ranked LSU dominated the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional as the Tigers tallied a school-record 198.325 that ties as the nation’s highest score this season to capture the regional title Saturday in the Maravich Center.
LSU (20-5) clinched the 13th regional title in school history and advanced to the NCAA championships for the 25th time. No. 10 Stanford scored a 197.275 to finish second in the meet, and the Cardinal also advanced to the NCAA championships that will be held in Birmingham, Ala., from April 18-20.
Iowa State finished third with a 196.350, while Kent State was fourth with a 195.125, No. 13 Auburn was fifth at 195.050 and Arizona was sixth at 194.825.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Utah rode a clutch performance on the balance beam and a big floor score to take a come-from-behind victory at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional. Utah, which scored a 197.300, advances to a record 39th consecutive national championship, along with runner-up UCLA (196.600). Arkansas finished third (196.375), followed by Arizona State (194.425), UC Davis (193.900) and Utah State (191.875).
Utah stood in third place after two rotations after a somewhat subpar bar performance and a clutch beam set that Greg Marsden termed its best of the year. But UCLA and Arkansas would still have to navigate the beam and Utah had its best two events ahead -- floor exercise, where the Utes are ranked No. 1 in the country -- and vault.
Utah sharpened up on the beam, an apparatus that would later knock Arkansas for a loop. All six Utes hit their routines for a 49.20 score, which would tie for the best beam score of the night with UCLA. Mary Beth Lofgren led the way with a 9.90 and Kailah Delaney earned a 9.85. Even so, the Utes, who were tied for second with Arkansas after one event, lost ground and after two rotations, Utah sat in third with a 98.45 behind UCLA (98.65) and Arkansas (98.625).
While Utah was in its locker room for its final bye of the night, Arkansas ran into trouble on the beam. By the time the Utes emerged for their last two events, they were positioned to take the lead, which they did with a 49.525 on the floor, which again tied UCLA for the top event score. Becky Tutka (9.925), Georgia Dabritz (9.925) and Nansy Damianova (9.95) finished the floor for Utah with a flourish. While the Utes were cleaning up on floor, the Bruins were struggling on bars, and Utah leaped from third to first.
With only vault remaining for the Utes, their 147.975 led UCLA (147.400), Arkansas (147.100) and the rest of the field.
The Utes got a little sloppy on their vault landings, but were big in the air and their 49.325 was the best score on the apparatus by any team. Though Utah won or tied for first on three of the four events, for the first time this season, the Utes were shut out of individual awards.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- For the fifth consecutive season, Oklahoma is an NCAA regional champion.
No. 2 Oklahoma posted a 197.725 to earn the NCAA Minneapolis Regional title and advance to the NCAA championships for the 11th consecutive season. The Sooners won or tied for the top team score on three events and captured individual titles on vault and beam.
No event was more incredible for the Sooners than vault: Oklahoma earned a 49.700 to set a program record on the event. It is the highest score on any event in OU program history -- the Sooners counted no score below a 9.9.
Sophomore Maile'ana Kanewa shone for OU as she returned to her home state. Kanewa captured the vault title with a 9.975 (including 10.0s from two judges) and finished second on floor with a 9.925. Freshman Chayse Capps tied for top honors on balance beam, capturing a 9.9 for the Sooners.
Oklahoma's championship-caliber confidence and coolness was on display throughout the meet: the Sooners scored higher on every event as the evening progressed. A slow start on bars could not make OU falter as the team earned a 49.400 on beam, a 49.450 on floor and a 49.700 on vault.
SEATTLE, Wash. -- Alabama won its NCAA-best 29th regional championship Saturday night outscoring second-place Nebraska 197.550-196.975.
Alabama started things off with a 49.300 on the uneven bars led by senior Kim Jacob’s 9.9 before moving to the balance beam were matching 9.9s from Jacob and freshman Aja Sims paced the Crimson Tide to a 49.325 team mark. On the floor exercise senior Diandra Milliner led Alabama to a 49.325 with a 9.900.
After a good start on its first three events, Alabama dominated the vault, scoring a 49.600 behind a 9.95 from sophomore Lauren Beers and 9.9 or better scores from freshman Katie Bailey, junior Kaitlyn Clark, Jacob and Milliner.
In addition to winning its 29th NCAA regional championship, Alabama is advancing to the NCAA championships final site for the 32nd year in a row, the second-longest streak in the history of collegiate gymnastics.
The victory also gives Sarah Patterson the 1,000th win of her career. Patterson is only the second coach in collegiate gymnastics to earn 1,000 wins and she is the fastest to a 1,000, notching the total in the 12th meet of her 36th year, while Utah head coach Greg Marsden, who passed the 1,000 win barrier earlier this season, did it in the fourth meet of his 39th season at the helm.
Unviersity Park Regional
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Florida claimed the NCAA University Park Regional, held Saturday in front of 1,827 at Penn State’s Rec Hall. The win advances Florida to Birmingham, Ala., where the Gators will look to defend their 2013 NCAA team title.
The Gators turned in a 197.05 Saturday to take their third consecutive NCAA regional title. The top two teams in regional competition advance to the NCAA championships and Penn State claimed the other berth at 196.725. Oregon State was third at 196.525, followed by Kentucky (195.925), New Hampshire (195.025) and Maryland (194.525).
It wasn’t a clean meet for the Gators, as the team was forced to count a fall for the first time this season, as two Gators recorded misses on balance beam. Florida also had to count a stumbled landing on floor toward its total. But the Gators opened and closed the competition with meet-high totals of 49.55 on both uneven bars and vault. The vault total stands as the Gators’ top tally on the event this season.
The Gators claimed at least a share of each event title Saturday. Senior Alaina Johnson won the all-around title at 39.55 and shared the balance beam win (9.85). Sophomore Bridget Sloan took the vault title (9.95) and shared the uneven bars win with senior teammate Mackenzie Caquatto with the same mark. Junior Kytra Hunter was the floor champion at 9.95.