Ashley Postell won the all-around and tied for first on beam and bars in first-round NCAA competition.
April 27, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -
The Utah gymnastics team won its preliminary session at the NCAA Championships to advance to the Super Six team finals on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. Utah scored a 197.325 to edge Stanford (197.20). UCLA was the other team to make it out of the preliminary session--scoring a 196.475. Rounding out the late show were LSU (196.275), Denver (195.575) and Michigan (195.100).
Georgia won the afternoon session and handed runner-up Florida its first defeat of the year, 197.700-197.400. Earning the third berth into the team finals was Nebraska at 196.625. Oklahoma finished strong on vault to pass Alabama for fourth (196.250-196.125), and Oregon State placed sixth with a 195.100.
Utah's Ashley Postell won the second session's all-around competition with a 39.60, and for the second straight year, finished second overall to Georgia's Courtney Kupets (39.75). Postell tied for first on two individual events as well in the evening, scoring a 9.925 on bars and a 9.90 on beam. Teammates Daria Bijak and Kristina Baskett tied with Postell on the bars. Nicolle Ford led the vault field with a career-best 9.95.
In the random draw following the meet, Utah received the same rotation order for Friday's Super Six as it had in the preliminary session. Utah will start with a bye, followed by floor, vault, bye, bars and beam. In its first try at the rotation, Utah used a strong start on the floor to score a 49.125. Postell's 9.875 would stand up as the second-best score of the night and freshman walk-on Beth Rizzo joined Postell on the All-America team and as an event qualifier by tying for third with a 9.85. The chance for a big score evaporated at the end of Utah's first rotation when anchor Baskett fell on her pike double back finish.
One rotation later, Utah blasted out of the bye room, posting the best bar score across both sessions - a 49.50. Scoring career highs were Jessica Duke (9.90) and Daria Bijak (9.925). Remarkably, Utah scored three consecutive 9.925s (Postell and Baskett followed Bijak's career-best outing). Only a fall by the All-American Ford from the No. 6 position prevented Utah from beating its season high of 49.55.
While Utah was having a field day on the bars, Stanford punched its ticket to the Super Six with a 49.30 balance beam score and a 197.20 total. Louisiana State (196.275) finished its competition and waited on the outcome of the sixth and final rotation. Utah headed into the beam with a 148.125 score - the best of the four teams still competing - ahead of UCLA (147.250), Denver (146.600) and Michigan (145.975).
Off to the balance beam went the Utes, where they would overtake idle Stanford. Baskett led off with a 9.825, followed by a 9.85 by Kim and 9.80s by Bijak and Shire. Ford ensured a place in the Super Six with a 9.825 and Postell brought the crowd od 8,077 to its feet with a session-best 9.90.
Four Utes came away from the meet guaranteed three days of competition. Making first-team All-American and qualifying for Saturday's individual event finals were Postell on bars, beam and floor, Ford and DiLuzio on vault, Baskett and Bijak on bars, and Rizzo on floor.
Postell, also a first-team All-America all-arounder, finished with four first-team awards and came away with second-team honors on the vault. Postell is now a 15-time All-American in her three years, of which 13 are first-team honors. Jessica Duke received Utah's only other second-team All-America award--making the team on the bars.