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Utes unable to overcome slow start vs. 'Dogs

Marsden outraged by judges, happy with team's performance

Published: Saturday, Feb. 26 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 4 Utah gymnastics team mounted a comeback after falling behind No. 8 Georgia by over half a point on the first event. But the Utes came up just short for the second straight week, falling 197.275-197.150 to a Georgia team that shattered its previous season best by nearly a point.

Despite its best road score and "best meet" of the season, Utah head coach Greg Marsden expressed outrage over the outcome.

"I couldn't be prouder than the job our team did tonight," Marsden said. "We got stronger and stronger as the meet went on. The only place we gave away a little was on bars, but after that it was our best meet of the year. In my way of thinking, we were winners tonight. We just weren't wearing the right leotard to the judges.

"This was still really fun tonight."

Faced with an almost insurmountable 49.475-48.975 deficit after one event, it seemed Utah would need the Bulldogs to count a fall — as they did in the previous five meets — to make things close. Instead, Utah clawed back without the benefit of such an assist.

Utah closed to within a tenth of a point, 147.700-147.600, heading into the final event. While the crowd of 8,172 roared for the Bulldogs on the floor, Utah was scoring a season-best 49.550 on beam. But Georgia counteracted with a 49.575 on the floor in a finish that left Marsden fuming. With the meet still in doubt, closer Ashley Kupets landed her final double back low to the floor and stumbled forward to keep upright. She received a 9.925.

A similar event occurred earlier on the balance beam, where Georgia's first performer fell and its sixth competitor flailed mightily to stay on the beam — bending completely over the apparatus before regaining her balance — yet scored a 9.675.

Scoring aside, Marsden was thrilled with the about-face his team made from a lackluster performance at Nebraska five days earlier. Utah's four all-arounders all placed in the top two, including ties. Senior Annabeth Eberle fired out her best effort of the year to win it with a 39.575. Tied for second with Georgia's Kupets were Nicolle Ford, Rachel Tidd and Ashley Postell, all with a 39.425.

Tidd tied for first on the uneven bars with a 9.925, Eberle and Postell shared top honors on the balance beam with a 9.95. Utah hit 23 of 24 routines, with the only fall from Dominique D'Oliveira on the bars.

Georgia 197.275, Utah 197.150

VAULT

Georgia

Megan Dowlen, 9.875

Katie Heenan, 9.925

Brittany Smith, 9.850

Michelle Emmons, 9.925

Kelsey Ericksen, 9.825

Ashley Kupets, 9.900

Utah

Gabriella Onodi, 9.700

Jessica Duke, 9.900

Nicolle Ford, 9.825

Ashley Postell, 9.875

Rachel Tidd, 9.800

Annabeth Eberle, 9.900

BARS

Georgia

Audrey Bowers, 9.050

Nikki Childs, 9.775

Megan Dowlen, 9.825

Katie Heenan, 9.825

Kelsey Ericksen, 9.925

Ashley Kupets, 9.850

Utah

Katie Kivisto, 9.725

Dominique D'Oliveira, 9.175

Annabeth Eberle, 9.825

Ashley Postell, 9.675

Nicolle Ford, 9.825

Rachel Tidd, 9.925

BEAM

Georgia

Kelsey Ericksen, 9.275

Megan Dowlen, 9.775

Brittany Smith, 9.900

Nikki Childs, 9.925

Ashley Kupets, 9.750

Katie Heenan, 9.675

Utah

Gabriella Onodi, 9.825

Kristen Riffanacht, 9.850

Rachel Tidd, 9.875

Nicolle Ford, 9.925

Annabeth Eberle, 9.950

Ashley Postell, 9.950

FLOOR

Georgia

Nikki Childs, 9.850

Megan Dowlen, 9.850

Brittaqny Smith, 9.925

Nikki Childs, 9.925

Ashley Kupets, 9.950

Katie Heenan, 9.925

Utah

Gabriella Onodi, 9.725

Rachel Tidd, 9.825

Ashley Postell, 9.900

Annabeth Eberle, 9.900

Gritt Hofmann, 9.850

Nicolle Ford, 9.850

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