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Gymnastics: Utes are peaking at right time

Published: Friday, March 31 2006 12:10 a.m. MST

With two weeks between meets, for Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden, whose team seems to be peaking as it goes into the postseason, part of the challenge is to keep practices fresh.

All of the upgrades were finally completed in the last regular-season meet, which resulted in the No. 2-ranked Utes' highest score of the season, 197.50 in beating visiting BYU (193.35) last Friday. So the Utes have six practices, starting last Monday, to hone their execution and confidence.

Marsden is shortening practices by an hour and is going for "less reps but more quality," hoping to tighten things up and get some stuck landings.

"There will be a lot of game-playing and situational stuff," said Marsden, "like they'll have to hit six routines in a row before we move on."

Since Utah will open at the NCAA Northeast Regional at Michigan April 8 on floor, usually the last event when a team is at home, some practices start out on floor, as opposed to the usual vault.

Others will go in other orders, just to try to keep things fresh. "You mix things up so it doesn't get too monotonous," Marsden said.

ULTIMATE DO-OVER: That low score by BYU at Utah last week had the Cougars thinking they were done for the season, until Southern Utah did about the same thing at the WAC championships in Logan the next day, thus handing a regional berth back to BYU.

"It's the ultimate do-over," said Y. coach Brad Cattermole. "We got a mulligan there."

He reminded his team, which has had a roller-coaster season, that Georgia last year backed into the NCAA championships field when Denver had three falls in its last event at the regional to give away the chance to advance. Georgia seized the do-over and won the 2005 NCAA championship.

"I don't know that I'm expecting to win a national championship," said Cattermole, whose team is ranked No. 24 in the final regular-season poll and is the final qualifier for the NCAA North Central Regional at Iowa State April 8.

But the Georgia example shows how to make a comeback, and the unexpected regional affords the young Cougars some extra experience.

Cattermole still can't figure why his team was poor at Utah. His only guess was that they were pressing to get the regional spot and wound up thinking too much about that. ""We didn't talk about it, but it's not like they don't know how to use the Internet" to know just how tight that race between BYU and SUU was.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com

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