When Utah sophomore Ashley Postell was about to warm up for uneven bars at last Friday's home meet with Utah State and Southern Utah, coach Greg Marsden told her she ought to warm up the new dismount she's been working on, just to get the feel of it.
She wasn't ready to use it in the meet since she's still trying to get her endurance up to par after a preseason tear in an elbow ligament set her back a couple months.
But Marsden's comment got her thinking, and when she went to floor exercise, she decided to warm up her old double-Arabian tumbling pass, too.
She used that skill almost unheard of in women's collegiate gymnastics in her elite career. But she'd done it only about three times on Utah's practice floor before she hurt her elbow doing a timer for it last fall, so she didn't really know how it would go when she tried it again after the longest injury layoff in her life.
"I wasn't planning on doing it at the beginning of the meet. It was just kind of brought up, and I was like, 'Oh, I'll warm it up,"' Postell said this week before practicing for tonight's Ute meet at Arizona State in Tempe at 7:30 p.m.
"It wasn't something I was planning on competing. I warmed it up, and it was really good, so I thought I'd try it out," Postell said.
It was a bit of a surprise to both her and Marsden, though it didn't shock him because he could kind of see it coming with her body language. "I know how she works," he said.
She was nervous while performing that routine for which she scored 9.925, highest of the season for the team on the event because she'd spent all her time warming up the Arabian and didn't warm up her triple twist that comes at the end of the routine.
She doesn't know if there was a reaction from the 12,000-plus in attendance because she was concentrating on the music and routine, and Postell doesn't remember anyone saying anything to her after she finished about the rather unique Arabian.
She only recalls Kristen Riffanacht saying she was happy Ashley had done all her dance work in the routine. She'd worried a bit about that, not wanting to use up too much energy.
Postell is still trying to get into peak competitive condition, but other than the upgraded dismount still planned for bars which could come tonight or next Friday at home against Minnesota she's doing everything she'd planned to do this season.
Quite an accomplishment. "For it being the fourth meet, yeah, for sure," she said. "First of all, people didn't think I'd be competing in the first meet at all, and I did three events. I guess I'm just slowly catching up to where I was before I hurt myself.
"I thought it was going to take a lot longer. I'm happy I could get most of my stuff back by now, considering what people were telling me, like the doctor."
When she works now, the elbow is "definitely fine and pain-free and I don't need tape any more," she said happily.
Postell and Marsden each said she can do the double Arabian better than she did last week. He noted she took a step back on it.
"I was still a little cautious on this one because I hadn't been doing it that much," she said. "If I wasn't really prepared for it, I probably would have fell, but my back leg caught me."
For tonight's meet, Marsden said he'd like to see his 5-0, second-ranked team continue to clean up landings and dismounts against the No. 12 Sun Devils, 4-0.Freshman Nina Kim is bothered by a sore knee but over the illness that kept her out last week, when Utah had "by far our best meet," Marsden said of the night that produced the nation's highest score this season, 197.20. Tonight Marsden may rest Nicolle Ford (sore wrist) in some events, which he'd planned to do last week but didn't with Kim's illness. And he's still trying to work some people in, like bars specialist Dominique D'Oliveira.
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