Postell contended despite injury

Published: Thursday, March 9 2006 10:12 a.m. MST

That Utah sophomore Ashley Postell was able to contend for Monday night's all-around title in the battle of then-unbeaten teams, No. 1-ranked Georgia at Utah, was no surprise.

That she was able to do it on a sore foot was a revelation saved until Tuesday.

On vault, her first event Monday night, on which she tied her career-high of 9.95, Postell strained a tendon in her left foot, right where it goes over the inner ankle bone.

She got through the other three events — and hit her floor routine with some extra-high tumbling — and totaled a season-high 39.65 to finish just behind Georgia Olympian Courtney Kupets (39.70).

"I didn't think much of it (Monday)," Postell said Tuesday. She knew immediately that she had done something that hurt, but it wasn't too bad during the meet. "I was moving around a lot," she said. "It definitely hurt me a lot more when I woke up this morning than last night. I couldn't walk this morning. It took me a while to get it warmed up."

She was limping Tuesday, said coach Greg Marsden, adding there was some swelling. "I don't know what she'll be available on, if anything," he said of Utah's second meet this week. The Utes greet Oregon State in the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m. Friday for their second-to-last home meet of the 2006 season.

He hopes Postell's injury is similar to the finger Nicolle Ford dislocated a week before the Georgia meet — a scare, but ultimately not a factor.

"They're tough," he said of Ford and Postell, adding about Postell, "She's real competitive," meaning she'll expect to compete.

NICE COMEBACK: Ute sophomore Jessica Duke did not have the meet she'd planned at BYU Feb. 24. She took several steps out of her vault landing and fell on her bars landing, perhaps trying a little too hard as her parents are both BYU grads.

Monday night, Duke started off Utah's meet against Georgia with a 9.8 vault, had a good bars set (9.775) and opened on floor with a strong 9.8. She said it was nice "getting back on track" after being "a head case" in Provo.

Monday's vault, she said, was her best of the season, with more height than usual.

"The meet last night definitely helped my confidence," Duke said.

She said she'd been upset over her practices, "and I was kind of down. I just want to have fun. I think that's what helped me, having fun and realizing that I know how to do these skills," said the sophomore from Sandy.

GUESSING GAME: It's tricky in this first year of the new code of points for coaches and gymnasts to figure out what things to work on to please judges. Two weeks ago, Utah slightly rearranged the floor routines of Postell and Kristen Riffanacht because a judge said she would prefer to see more balance between dance and acrobatic skills.

Monday night, Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan observed that Postell does two B-level moves in a row during her floor routine. Yoculan thought she lost points because of it. Marsden Tuesday added that Ford also does two B moves.

Both plan to upgrade soon, and Marsden said he sees nothing in the rules about that, but he said judges don't want to see D or E skills early in a routine followed by all B's or C's.

Postell and Ford start and finish with high-level difficulties but currently go easier in the middle as they try to get comfortable with upgrades. Ford scored just 9.6 after nearly falling on her upgraded last pass, so it's hard to tell if she would have been graded down by Monday's judging panel. Postell got 9.95 from one judge and 9.85 from the other, so there may be another lesson there, though Marsden isn't worried because planned upgrades will take care of that possible problem.


E-MAIL: lham@desnews.com

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