The seniors "had ups and downs throughout their careers," Marsden said, "but really came together at championships and did a magnificent job."
Though Utah had its biggest senior class ever five due to Hofmann's extra year of eligibility, youth also factored into Ute frustrations. "The majority of our routines were from the younger athletes," said Marsden, "and that can create inconsistency."
It also creates hope for next year, since only seven of the 24 routines from the nationals lineup will be lost to graduation three by Hofmann, two by Riffanacht and one each from Onodi and D'Oliveira.
The five graduations plus Tidd's retirement bring on recruits Daria Bijak, Chelsea Coleman, Jaime Deetscreek, Annie DiLuzio, Stephanie Neff and Sarah Shire. One national publication late last year called this the nation's top incoming class, and Marsden has called it maybe Utah's best, though he knows that's "on paper" and it will take some work to integrate so many new personalities, egos and skills. "You never know till you know. Transition can be difficult," he said, but it looks like there'll be more talent and certainly more depth.
Shire is a four-year member of the U.S. national team, and Neff and DiLuzio are two-year members.
Shire and DiLuzio, with no Olympics to point for, are taking it easy this year so they'll be in good shape mentally and physically when they join the Utes, Marsden said.
Neff and Deetscreek are going to the Junior Olympic nationals, and Marsden says Coleman "is a little bit of a sleeper. She's going to surprise people" as she's been out with a knee injury that should be healed by fall.
Bijak, the German national champion, was eighth all-around at the 2005 World Championships, 20th all-around at the 2003 Worlds. (Postell was 2002 World beam champion.)Walk-on Beth Rizzo should also be "new" in 2007 after redshirting her freshman season.
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