BOUNTIFUL – There’s nothing more encouraging than heading into the finals at the top of the heap.
The University of Utah Red Rocks took first place at last weekend’s region meet, securing them a place in the upcoming NCAA Championships. Bountiful native Hailee Hansen, one of the team’s co-captains, was on hand to help support her team on the road to the finals.
“They’re excited,” said Cori Gyuro, Hansen’s mom. “Even as a top seed team, you take nothing for granted.”
Hansen, who competes in only the uneven bars, received a 9.8 at the region meet. The team scored a combined 49.250 on the event, their third-lowest set of the season. Though it wasn’t the top score among the competing teams, the total was still enough to beat UCLA, the team who finished the meet in second place. They scored only 48.750 on the same event.
“They didn’t have their best set as a team, but they continued to get stronger through the night,” said Gyuro, who was there for the competition. “They just did what they needed to do as a team.”
The team was in third place after the first event, going on to score a 49.2 on the balance beam. They tied UCLA in the event, which narrowed the other team’s lead over them, and had an excellent showing on floor routines with a 49.525. By the time the team wrapped up vault with a score of 49.325, the other teams were too far behind to catch up.
“They’re still a humble team,” said Gyuro. “They take nothing for granted.”
Utah went into the tournament ranked fifth in the NCAA stats, behind top-ranked LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida. UCLA, the other team to go onto the finals from the region meet, was ranked 10th at the beginning of the tournament.
The NCAA Championships are set for April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.
“They have the foundation and skill set to do it,” said Gyuro. “I think they’re just focused on staying mentally strong.”