Fifth-ranked Michigan was heading into town to face off against #4 Utah. The buzz 90 minutes prior to the meet was that the crowd was going to be huge. The fire marshall had been through the arena earlier in the day and raised the limit for a capacity crowd above what had been set over a decade ago. Even so, ticket sales had been robust and there was the concern some families with general-admission coupons would have to be turned away. The plan was to invite them back with free tickets for the Pac-12 Championships being held here in a couple of weeks. Oh, yeah, and CBS National News (“CBS This Morning”) was in the house, doing a story on Utah’s gymnastics program that will be aired some time prior to the aforementioned Pac-12 Championships.
This was the last regular season meet and a farewell to four seniors who represent one of the strongest classes the program has ever seen. The crowd was ready.
Introductions were emotional, and I’ve never understood how the athletes manage to move so quickly from tears to competition, but that was the order of the night.
This may have been the only moment the four seniors weren’t sure exactly what was expected of them
Michigan came to play and laid down one after another stellar bars routine during the first rotation. Utah kept pace with a very strong set of vaults and came out of the rotation with a small lead.
Utah usually is very strong on bars and tonight was no exception.
Once again, Georgia Dabtritz topped off the set with a perfect score. Crowd roar. Crowd roar again. Utah’s lead grows.
Prior to the start of the final rotation, the crowd is announced as 16,019. Sixteen thousand, nineteen people! 1,019 of them were without seats! There isn’t a single person associated with this program who could fail to be stunned by that number. A team record. A Huntsman Center record. And a crowd that brought Utah’s home-meet season average to 14,950, an NCAA attendance record that gives Utah its fifth all-women’s sports’ attendance title. And that crowd is roaring once again.
Floor offers a showcase, and the Utes and their seniors took advantage. It was a competition, but it was an exhibition and a show of appreciation as well. No disappointments here.
Michigan had a great meet and finished with a score of 197.675. Utah rose to the occasion with a 198.250. Roar. And three of Utah's seniors captured the top three spots in the all-around competition. A fitting home finish to a season that so far has written its own script.
If you've read this far, I'm impressed. Please drop a comment if you enjoyed the show. And "Go Utes!"