I just got home from the AMAZING atmosphere created by fans, athletes and coaches inside the Huntsman Center on the campus of the University of Utah in northeastern Salt Lake City, Utah.

OH.

MY.

GOD.

The atmosphere was great at the UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State meets, but something about tonight’s meet against the University of Washington made it extra exciting.

The Utes, lovingly known to their fan base as the RedRocks, started off amazingly strong with six hit vaults, including a stuck vault by hometown girl Mary Beth Lofgren, scoring a 9.900 and taking an early lead over the Huskies of Seattle. All six vaulters hit clean Yurchenko layout-fulls to score a 49.325 as a team. Victoria Shanley scored a big 9.875, while Nansy Damianova, Corrie Lothrop and Stephanie McAllister each scored 9.850 and Lia Del Priore scored 9.800.

On the Uneven Bars, freshman stronghold Corrie Lothrop competed two release skills in her routine for first time this season, adding a nice Tkatchev after her usual Jaeger and sticking her double-layout dismount to bring in a massive 9.900. Stephanie McAllister continued to shine on the Uneven Bars, scoring a 9.925 for a routine that includes a Weiler-kip with 1/2 pirouette into overshoot and a stuck tucked full-in dismount. Canadian Olympian Gael Mackie was strong on the Bars as well, bringing a 9.900 to the Utes tally. Cortni Beers and Nansy Damianova both scored 9.825 and Jacquelyn Johnson, fresh off a concussion in training scored a 9.800 in her first appearance back in the Huntsman Center. The Utes scored 49.375 as a team on the Uneven Bars.

Balance Beam was, for the most part, a strong event for the Utes. Lead-off girl Fumina Kobayashi, a Salt Lake City native set the tone for the Utes posting a 9.800 to open up the third rotation. Gael Mackie followed Kobayashi, but had a fall on her tumble series and a few hesitations following isolated skills, resulting in a 9.175. After Mackie’s fall, the Utes came roaring back with Cortni Beers and Corrie Lothrop scoring 9.825, Stephanie McAllister a 9.800 and Mary Beth Lofgren a huge 9.900. The Utes recorded a 49.150 on the beam for tonight.

The Floor Exercise is where coaches Greg and Megan Marsden have said the Utes need the most work, particularly on landings. They were right, and tonight their hard work paid off. All six Utes stayed in-bounds and had mostly clean landings (Jaq Johnson was a bit short on her second tumble of 1.5-twist into punch front tuck) and Nansy Damianova almost bounced out of bounds on her final tumbling line, but stayed in).

Stephanie McAllister’s 9.900 was met with raucous applause by the entire arena, with the whole of the student section, which I am thankfully a part of, raising their “U” with McAllister at the end of her routine. The highlight, though, was Corrie Lothrop’s clean and exciting routine to a remix of “Tango Roxanne” from the film ‘Moulin Rouge.’ Lothrop’s 9.925 is a season high for her and left the crowd roaring. Nansy Damianova’s sultry and clean routine pays homage to her French-Canadian roots in Montreal. Exciting, a bit sassy, very clean, Damianova sold her routine tonight for a 9.775. As did Jacquelyn Johnson. Competing on the floor for the first time since her concussion, her routine to Bajofondo Tango Club’s “Pa’ Bailar” was great, scoring a 9.700! I look forward to seeing Jaq back in the lineup for Floor Exercise. Lia Del Priore has a powerful routine set to powerful music, a 9.725 from her will go up much higher when she becomes more confident in her landings and performance. Mary Beth Lofgren’s 9.800 rounds up the Utes scores on the floor where the team tallied a 49.125.

On the night, the Utes just barely missed the elusive 197.000 mark, scoring a 196.975 over Washington’s 195.475.

Corrie Lothrop won the All-Around competition with a 39.500. Teammate Stephanie McAllister came in second with a 39.475, while Ruby Engreitz of Washington came in third with a 38.500.

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Event Scores

Vault

1. LOFGREN, Mary Beth (Utah) 9.900
2. SHANLEY, Victoria (Utah) 9.875
3. DAMIANOVA, Nansy (Utah) 9.850
3. LOTHROP, Corrie (Utah) 9.850
3. MCALLISTER, Stephanie (Utah) 9.850
3. ROGERS, Lauren (UW) 9.850

Uneven Bars

1. MCALLISTER, Stephanie (Utah) 9.925
2. LOTHROP, Corrie (Utah) 9.900
2. MACKIE, Gael (Utah) 9.900

Balance Beam

1. LOFGREN, Mary Beth (Utah) 9.900
2. LOTHROP, Corrie (Utah) 9.825
2. BEERS, Cortni (Utah) 9.825
2. WALIOR, Samantha (UW) 9.825

Floor Exercise

1. LOTHROP, Corrie (Utah) 9.925
2. MCALLISTER, Stephanie (Utah) 9.900
3. LOFGREN, Mary Beth (Utah) 9.800

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The Utes will take on the #8-ranked University of Michigan next weekend in the Huntsman Center in the final meet of a four-meet home stretch. Watch out for Michigan’s Kylee Botterman to contend for the All-Around, Uneven Bars and Floor Exercise titles, as well as Sarah Curtis on the Beam and Natalie Bielstein on the Floor Exercise and Vault. The Wolverines have a strong program and great depth and will provide a welcome challenge for the Utes next weekend.

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