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Gymnastics: Utah gymnast going back home for meet

Baskett's Utes take on Washington in Seattle tonight

Published: Friday, Jan. 13 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

The first meet of her college career was at UCLA, where University of Utah gymnast Kristina Baskett had once longed to compete.

The second meet of her college career, tonight at 8 MST, will be at the University of Washington, just half an hour's drive from her hometown of Normandy Park, near Sea-Tac airport, where her father is a pilot for United Airlines.

Baskett, the 2005 Junior Olympics all-around/vault/floor champion, expects to have a large number of family, friends and former club teammates at tonight's meet that pits fourth-ranked Utah (1-0) against the No. 18 Huskies (2-3).

It's been a whirlwind start for Baskett, and Ute coach Greg Marsden is well aware of it.

"Both freshmen had a great first meet," he said of last Saturday's win in Los Angeles, where Nina Kim would have been in the all-around running had she not had a fall on her final floor pass, still scoring 38.625. Baskett tied for the floor win (9.825), had 9.875 on bars and 9.8 in vaulting, all good numbers in a first week under the new code-of-points scoring rules.

But tonight, Baskett will likely have the added thoughts of trying to impress those close to her.

"We've got to be a little careful of that," said Marsden. "It's her second college meet, and she's going home, and she's going to want to do well. You have to be careful of her worrying too much about the outcome. I keep trying to focus Kristina and everybody else on setting goals that they can control."

"I don't know. I think I can do it," said Baskett, whose mother Jean played high school basketball in Alaska and is now a basketball referee, though she's only two inches taller than her 5-foot daughter. "I think the first meet went well, and I just think it will keep getting better from here on."

One reason she came to Utah was the enormous, best-in-the-NCAA crowds that the Utes draw. The more people, the happier she is competing, and she does well in front of friends, too. "I love it," she said. "I just like to perform."

She learned that very early in life. At age 2 1/2, her mom put Kristina and her brother in a gymnastics class, "and that's all I wanted to do after that," Baskett said.

Marsden held Baskett out of the beam lineup last week, unsure of her confidence on that event, but she did well in an exhibition routine. That may be Utah's deepest event, though.

With junior Nicolle Ford having a slight wrist injury, and a desire to get other people into competition in several events so he at least knows what to expect from them, tonight's lineup is likely to change from last week's. Marsden wants to see Dominique D'Oliveira and Natalie Nicoloff, for example. "I need to get them in the lineup and give them their opportunity," he said.

He may not use Ford much tonight, depending on the wrist, so she will be ready for next Friday's home opener with sixth-ranked Nebraska.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com

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