BOUNTIFUL – Even the greatest journeys can have disappointing endings.
Bountiful native Hailee Hansen and her teammates on the University of Utah’s Women’s Gymnastics team fell short of the Super Six cutoff at the NCAA finals by .075 of a point, missing the chance to compete for the top spot in the nation.
“The world came crashing down,” said Hansen, the team’s co-captain. “It was less than one-tenth of a point. That’s how close these meets get.”
After strong performances at the Pac-12 and the NCAA Regional Championships, the team had a tough start at the competition’s opening. The team didn’t score nearly as well as their season average, ending up in third place after the uneven bars and falling to fifth place after the vault.
Hansen fell during her routine on bars, earning a 9.250, but the score ended up not being counted against the team.
“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes,” she said. “It wasn’t a horrible meet for us, but it wasn’t our top meet. After an amazing season we had just one mediocre night, but it was the one that kept us from moving on.”
Still, the team rallied, with the Red Rocks coming back strong on their floor routines. Though Georgia Dabritz struggled during her performance, earning only a 9.775, the other scores ranged from 9.85 to 9.925.
Hansen, watching from the sidelines, was proud of all of her teammates.
“The girls really came back and gave it their all,” she said. “It was truly heartbreaking to see the fight these girls put up. They fought to the very end.”
The team’s final score after three rounds was 197.025, finishing fourth in session and 7th overall. Nebraska and LSU, who grabbed the fifth and sixth spots in the Super Six, both finished with a score of 197.10.
In the end, Oklahoma and Florida won the night, sharing the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics title in the sports’ first-ever tie. Both teams scored 198.175.
As for Hansen, she’s switched her focus from gymnastics to graduation and what comes next. The senior will receive her degree in communications on May 2, and after that will test out the world of jobs and internships.
“I’m probably going to try to do a couple of fun things,” she said. “I’m still at the undecided stage.”
And, no matter how it ended, she’s proud of the season she and her teammates have had.
“It was such a special year,” she said “We made a decision to work as hard as we could. Though this year didn’t finish how we wanted it to, and how we deserved it to, I’d still have to say that it was truly magical.”