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Originally published April 5, 2014 at 7:44 PM | Page modified April 5, 2014 at 9:15 PM

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NCAA gymnastics: Washington finishes fourth at Seattle Regional

Alabama and Nebraska finish first and second to earn berths into the NCAA finals April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.

Special to The Seattle Times

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The two top-tier teams in the Seattle Regional of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships did not disappoint.

Fourth-seeded Alabama and No. 9 Nebraska delivered glittering team performances Saturday night in front of 2,418 at Alaska Airlines Arena and earned the regional’s two automatic berths to the 12-team NCAA finals April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.

On a night of eye-popping athleticism, the Crimson Tide posted the top team score of 197.55, followed by Nebraska’s 196.975. Alabama will be making its 32nd straight appearance at a championship meet. The Cornhuskers will be making their 22nd trip.

Washington, the sixth seed in this six-team field, finished fourth (195.55). Denver (195.625) just edged UW for third place. Boise State took fifth (195.275), followed by BYU (194.65).

The top two teams accounted for nearly all Individual event champions. One exception was Boise State junior Kelsey Morris, a Snohomish High School grad who scored a 9.95 and shared the bars title with Emily Wong of Nebraska. Morris will compete at nationals on bars.

Lauren Beers of Alabama and Nebraska’s Jessie DeZiel won the vault crown with scores of 9.95. On beam, Alabama senior All-American Kim Jacob and freshman teammate Aja Sims tied for first at 9.9. Wong, Alabama senior Diandra Milliner and Boise State’s Ciera Perkins split the floor crown with scores of 9.9.

Wong (39.625) was the all-around champ, followed by Jacob (39.5). DeZiel and Alabama’s Sarah DeMeo (39.425) tied for third.

Washington had placed third in its past three regional meets but was hampered by injuries this season. UW had no individual national qualifiers for just the second time in the eight-year tenure of coach Joanne Bowers, but Bowers views UW’s overall finish as a positive.

“We knew if we hit all our routines, we’d be up there, and we met our goal,” said Bowers, whose roster of 12 includes six freshmen. “It was a great way for a young, young team to perform and see what this is all about. Now we’ve got all them back, and hopefully we start something even better next year.”

Sophomore Alison Northey, a Skyline grad and one of two All-Pac-12 first-team selections on UW’s roster (along with junior Jackie McMartin), posted a season high on vault (9.875) performing a Yurchenko layout full. “To get a season high in the last meet is kind of cool,” Northey said. “I was really happy with that.”

The team’s lone senior, Aliza Vaccher, matched her season high (9.85) on beam. Junior Madison Podlucky, an Inglemoor grad, and freshman Alexandra Yacalis each put up a team-best 9.825 on floor.

Northey placed ninth in all-around with a score of 39.2, followed by Vaccher in 10th (39.075). Northey missed qualifying for nationals in all-around by one spot.

“We’re still going to have the base of our team,” Northey said, looking ahead to next season. “I think we’ll do really well next year. I think I can rise to new levels and really improve on every event.”

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