Freshman Nicolle Ford is a first-team beam All-American.
April 16, 2004
LOS ANGELES -
The University of Utah gymnastics team will compete in its 10th NCAA Super Six since 1993 tonight in Pauley Pavilion. Utah survived the toughest preliminary session last night to advance along with UCLA and Alabama. Stanford, Florida and Georgia were the qualifiers out of the first session.
For the second straight night, Utah has drawn the uneven bars as its opening event. Competition starts at 7:00 p.m. PDT (8:00 p.m. MDT). The live stats link for the NCAA Championships is http://www.ncaasports.com/gymnastics/womens/results.
At least one change is expected in Utah's lineup from Thursday's preliminary session. Freshman Stephanie Lim will replace Kristen Riffanacht in the bar lineup. Utah's normal starter in that position is freshman Rachel Tidd, who cannot compete due to a bout with mononucleosis. Lim is also replacing Tidd in the vault lineup, while sophomore Gabriella Onodi will again get the call to sub in on the beam. Nicolle Ford, Utah's only two-time first-team All-American at this year's championships, and who made the second-team in the all-around, will again replace Tidd on the floor exercise.
Ford qualified for individual event finals on Saturday by tying for fourth in the second session on both bars (9.925) and beam (9.875). Senior Melissa Vituj became the first Ute since Aimee Trepanier in 1992-95 to finish her career as a four-time first-team floor exercise All-American. Vituj tied for first across both sessions on the floor to qualify for individual finals with a 9.95 on Thursday. Annabeth Eberle, who tied for 10th in the all-around Thursday to barely miss out on second-team All-America status, won first-team honors on the vault, where she tied for first across both sessions with a 9.95.
The Utes will have plenty of support in the stands for another shot at a national championship: Hundreds of Utah fans made the trip to UCLA and accounted for probably a third of the audience in last night's preliminary session. A much larger local crowd is expected to be in the building tonight, however.