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Utah gymnastics: Tory Wilson eyes vault title

SALT LAKE CITY — Individual accomplishments are not the most touted achievement in college gymnastics, but they sure do feel good. And though the Utah gymnasts have a team-first mentality heading into the NCAA Championships April 19-21, the reality is they're going to need some standout individual performances to propel them out of Friday's tough team semifinal and into what would be their 19th Super Six on Saturday.

Sunday features the top individual scorers from Friday. Utah had two individual qualifiers for vault last season in then-freshmen Kailah Delaney and Georgia Dabritz.

"It was a little bit of a surprise because I was definitely not the strongest vaulter on the team," said Dabritz. "It's a different excitement in the individual events because you're doing it for you since you don't have your whole team down there with you."

Though making the finals was a fun accomplishment, Dabritz and Delaney didn't muster much success given they only had one vault prepared in a required two-vault scenario.

According to Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden, that second-vault rule changed this past year thanks to some lobbying by the coaches' association and movement by the NCAA Gymnastics Committee.

"It really came down to a safety issue because a lot of gymnasts don't practice a second vault during the season, especially freshman gymnasts," said Marsden. "This rule change bodes well for Tory (Wilson), who only has one vault, but knows how to stick that vault as well as anyone."

"I didn't make the individual finals last year so it would be a new experience," said Wilson. "But it would be great to help the team with a personal best, because I don't take on a personal gain perspective."

Wilson has been dominant in the vault all season, claiming 11 victories and ranking third in the nation. The 11 wins equal former Ute Ashley Postell's victories on beam in 2008, but falls short of Theresa Kulikowski's 12 wins on bars in 2001. Dabritz leads the team in overall individual event wins this season with 17, including a victory on bars and a tie for the win on vault with Wilson at the NCAA Regionals.

The All-American sophomore duo of Wilson and Dabritz will need to score big in every event to give Utah a chance. Dabritz can hit scores as high as anybody in the country when she's on, while Wilson is right there with her.

"My goal is to hit four-of-four events first for my team, and then see where it places me," said Dabritz, who has a shot at event finals in vault, bars and floor.

All-American Becky Tutka and Regional floor champion Nansy Damianova also have shots at individual success on floor, while a handful of other Utah gymnasts could surprise as well. Utah's last NCAA individual event champion was Postell on beam in 2007.

NCAA Championship

Friday's semifinals

Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles

First session (1 p.m.): Illinois, Florida, Stanford, LSU, Minnesota, Georgia

Second session (7 p.m.): Oklahoma, Alabama, UCLA, Michigan, Utah, Arkansas