Utes need improved vault landings

Published: Friday, March 10 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

The one thing that cost the Utah gymnastics team a victory over No. 1-ranked Georgia Monday night in the Huntsman Center was vault landings. The Utes didn't stick them, even after having done so the past few meets. Georgia did. Georgia won by .25 point.

Tonight, when the sixth-ranked, 9-1 Utes meet No. 17 Oregon State (12-6) in the Huntsman Center, coach Greg Marsden would like to see his team continue the aggressive mood it displayed against Georgia but stop the landings cold.

Part of Monday's difficulty was the adrenaline of a very competitive meet. Certainly that affected freshman Nina Kim, who had been planting her landings but overdid on vault and bars.

"I don't usually think about sticking, just about making the vault bigger, but I made it a little too big," she said. "We've been working more sticks in the gym, so hopefully we'll be able to do it."

"It's really more about the takeoff than the landing," said Marsden of his keys to planting vaults. "You have to be careful because if you get too focused on the sticking part, you get a little tentative on the takeoff part, and that's usually when you leave the thing short."

He said gymnasts will work on setting up their skills when they get a chance to get back to practice. This is the time of the season when they need to start producing clean routines in preparation for the postseason.

They didn't get to practice landings much this week.

It's unusual for Utah to have two home meets in five days, but it was necessitated when Georgia had some scheduling problems and asked for the Monday meet, and Marsden was grateful the Gym Dogs were willing to have a meet last Friday and then fly cross-country to Monday's meet.

With mid-term exams this week, and some gymnasts still feeling the effects of Monday's meet on Thursday, saying they were tired, the two practice sessions consisted of little more than warming up.

Sophomore Ashley Postell's strained tendon in her left foot seemed better by Thursday. Trainer Tom Iriye said it is OK, and Postell was jogging a bit on it before practice. Marsden planned to make a meet-day decision on her participation, based on what she wants to do. Postell hurt the foot on vault Monday but totaled 39.65 all-around, then awoke with pain Tuesday.

If she is unable to go, Gabi Onodi, whose long illness seems better again, could replace Postell on vault or beam, Kristen Riffanacht on floor and either Dominique D'Oliveira or Onodi on bars.

After tonight, Utah will have only one more home meet, March 24 with Brigham Young.

Oregon State, which will host the 2006 NCAA Championships April 20-22, has a season-high score of 195.14 scored Jan. 27. Utah's high of 197.20 was also scored Jan. 27. OSU has three all-arounders (Chrissy Lamun, Jami Lopez, Tasha Smith) with season highs in the 39.175-39.20 range. Utah has four (Kim, Kristina Baskett, Nicolle Ford, Postell) in the 39.35-39.65 range.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com

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