In the final rotation, Georgia sat out with a bye, watching UCLA and Utah take one last shot at its 187.90 score. UCLA, which saw its national championship hopes fade after a mediocre 45.80 for beam, came back with a 46.95 floor score. Not good enough. The Bruins exited the floor with a 187.00 mark. The last obstacle between Georgia and its first national championship was Utah. The Utes final two competitors needed 9.70's to pull out the meet. All America junior Lynne Lederer owned a career high 9.65 score and was in the running for the NCAA allaround title and freshman Kris Takahashi had twice scored a 9.75. The two fell just short, with Lederer scoring a 9.40 and Takahashi nailing a 9.60. "I'mjust as proud as can be with the way the girl's came back after our slow start on beam and floor," said Utah Coach Greg Marsden . "They could have quit and settled for fourth or fifth, but they showed championship mettle to me." The crowning of a new national champion culminated the team competition, but much more ensued prior to that point. While 12 teams were chasing Georgia, Oklahoma's Kelly Garrison-Steves was dancing her way to the all-around title. The NCAA allaround record holder (39.15), Garrison-Steves' 38.15 score gave her the gold medal over Washington's Yumi Mordre (37.85) and Georgia's Corrinne Wright (37.80).
The powerful Sooner sophomore stumbled only on beam where she scored a 9.25. Arguably the best gymnast in collegiate history, GarrisonSteves tied for first on va ult and bars and finished second on floor. At the end of the team competition, the standings stood as such: 1. Georgia (187.90); 2. Utah (187.55); 3. UCLA (187.00); 4. Alabama (186.60); 5. Arizona State (184.00); 6. Florida (183.80); 7. Louisiana State (181.50); 8. Ohio State (180.20) ; 9 . Washington (179.85); 10. Nebraska (179.50); 11. Arizona (179.45); and 12. Oregon State (174.50). Much more remained to the 1987 Championships after 9,032 fans filed from Utah's Special Events Center. The individual event championships promised to feature some of the best performances ever witnessed in Salt Lake City. For event finals, a pair of up-and-rising stars emerged. After a pre-meet warmup injury knocked Garrison-Steves from the competion, Mordre and UCLA's Kim Hamilton stole the show. Mordre became the meet's first individual event winner when her handspring front with a half twist scored a 9.50, giving her the vault title. The bubbly sophomore made NCAA history two events later when she performed a "Mordre" (a Diamadov performed on one hand instead of two). A 9.65 score made Mordre the first two-event winner in NCAA history. Perhaps most outstanding to the 7 ,442 fans was UCLA freshman Hamilton's stunning floor routine. The
long-limbed rookie's two double backs and a triple turn, combined with her upbeat dance, resulted in a thunderous standing ovation and subsequent curtain call. The judges applauded Hamilton with an NCAA floor exercise record of9.80. "I was thrilled, really moved by the crowd's response," said Hamilton. "That's never happened to me before." If Hamilton won the Salt Lake crowd's collective heart, Georgia's Wright and Utah's Lederer captured a share of it, too. Wright , a diminutive 4"9' bundle of energy, landed a highflying double layout on her first pass and a double back on her last pass for a 9.70 and second. Lederer gave the crowd something to cheer about when she performed a perfect triple twist en route to a 9.60 score and a tie for third with Alabama's Marie Robbins. Tucked between Mordre's and Hamilton's routines was Georgia All-American Lucy Wener's second consecutive bars championship. Wener's beat to uprise, to vault over eagle catch, to back straddle earned her a 9.70. The 1987 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships ended on the heels of Wright's second double back on floor. It ended Utah's unprecedented six year hold on the national title. It ended Utah's eight year home win streak. The 1987 NCAA Championships ushered in a new era. An era where any team in any seed can emerge as the new national champion.
Michelle Hilse aided Utah in its valiant comeback effort but the lead built by Georgia proved to be too large a barrier for the six-time NCAA champion Utes. (USGF photo by Tom Smart)