Ashley Postell leads Utah into tonight's individual event finals.
April 28, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -
Ashley Postell leads a group of five Ute gymnasts into the NCAA Individual Event Championships tonight, one night after leading Utah to a second-place team finish. The final night of NCAA Championships competition begins at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.
Postell will compete for individual titles on bars, beam and floor. Utah will be represented on every apparatus, with Nicolle Ford and Annie DiLuzio competing on vault, Daria Bijak and Kristina Baskett on bars and Beth Rizzo on floor. Postell missed a berth in the vault lineup by one place during qualifying competition on April 26.
Baskett, a sophomore, will attempt to defend her NCAA co-championship on the uneven bars. She shared the 2006 NCAA crown with Georgia's Courtney Kupets, who is also in the bar lineup tonight.
Postell goes into the event finals as a 15-time NCAA All-American, of which 13 are first-team awards. She won every head-to-head all-around competition in the NCAA Tournament this year, taking the NCAA West Regional title before placing first in the evening preliminary session at NCAA Championships on April 26. (For the second straight year, she finished second in the all-around to Kupets once the other session's scores were factored in). Last night, Postell led the all-around field with a 39.65 tally and tied for first on the balance beam with a 9.95. Neither of those victories counts in the NCAA record books, which recognize the all-around winner from Thursday and event winners from Saturday.
Ford, Utah's only senior, is an eight-time All-American. A three-time first-team All-American on the uneven bars, Ford out on a fourth award when she fell on her specialty Thursday night. However, she won the preliminary competition on vault with a 9.95 and is a first-team All-American on that event for the second straight year.
In addition to Baskett's NCAA uneven bar championship as a freshman last year, she won first-team honors on vault. Going into tonight's finals, she is a three-time All-American.
Making their first appearance on NCAA individual night are freshmen DiLuzio, Bijak and Rizzo. DiLuzio is considered one of the best vaulters in the world and one of her two required vaults tonight will be her signature double full. Bijak also has international status, having placed eighth in the world in 2006 and winning the last two German national all-around championships. Rizzo is a walk-on who did not crack the floor lineup until the fourth meet of the season.
Missing event finals by one place was junior Jessica Duke on the uneven bars. Duke was awarded second-team All-America honors, bringing Utah's total to 11.