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Teams await regional lineups

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The final regular-season women's gymnastics rankings were released early today, but seventh-ranked Utah and the rest of the field will have to wait until midday to learn where they will be assigned for the NCAA regionals.

No. 23 BYU and No. 28 Utah State should convene at Denver University for the NCAA North Central Regional on April 14. Southern Utah missed qualifying for a team spot in a regional, finishing seventh in the North Central Region behind the No. 6 Aggies.

There are six regionals — at West Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Denver, Arizona and California — and each will have six teams vying for the top-two spots that qualify for the 2007 NCAA championships at Utah's Huntsman Center on April 26-28.

The NCAA sends the top 18-ranked teams to regionals based on an "S" curve system, with Nos. 1, 12 and 13 going to the one regional, along with the three highest-ranked teams not in the top 18 from that region. Nos. 2, 11 and 14 are sent to another of the six regionals, with Nos. 3, 10 and 15 at another, 4-8-16 grouped, 5-9-17 and 6-7-18.

Utah and No. 6 Nebraska should be grouped somewhere with No. 18 Missouri.

However, those teams hosting regionals get to stay home, and this dictates that the 3-10-15 grouping be changed as No. 3 Alabama and No. 15 Arizona are both hosts. There's also the complication of UCLA and Oregon State tying at No. 8, and there's a desire to keep teams within one or two time zones of home.

So the NCAA will sort things out and is to announce its regional fields about noon (MDT) today.

It could keep No. 1 Florida in its proper regional, since No. 12 Michigan is a host, and also send No. 13 Arkansas to Ann Arbor, Mich. No. 2 Georgia, No. 11 Penn State and No. 14 Denver would also work.

Utah's Ashley Postell is the highest-ranked all-arounder from the state at No. 9 with a 39.435 Regional Qualifying Score, an average of six meets, three of which must be on the road. Ute Nicolle Ford (39.41) finished 14th.

Utah's Kristina Baskett finished tied for third on bars (9.925) with Ford fourth (9.920). Baskett also ranks fifth in vault. Postell and Ford are tied for fifth on beam with Postell and Baskett tied for 12th on floor. BYU's Dayna Smart is tied for 22nd on beam and is No. 25 on vault.

E-mail: lham@desnews.com