Utah Utes gymnastics: Marsden gets to the point with Michigan referee

Published: Tuesday, March 25 2008 12:40 a.m. MDT

Some fans at Saturday's meet at the University of Michigan thought Ute gymnastics coach Greg Marsden got out of line in temporarily stopping the vault action after his first two competitors in what was Utah's second event.

Marsden got a little animated and held things up until the meet referee came over.

The rest of the story is that Marsden was sitting near the meet referee during the first rotation — Utah on bars and Michigan on vault.

"I noticed that some deductions were not being taken (on Michigan vaults) and had a discussion with her about that," Marsden said. "She agreed with regard to how things were being done, (that) some scores were pretty generous.

"I said, 'I don't have a problem with that as long as they just use the same standards to judge both teams."' He asked her to discuss that with the judges, which she did.

But it seemed the judges were more demanding anyway of the Utes — who rank No. 1 as a team, with Ashley Postell the NCAA's top-ranked vaulter and with Kristina Baskett ranked sixth — so Marsden was unhappy and wanted the meet referee to oversee the rest of the event.

"If people in the stands saw differently, that's fine," Marsden said Monday, "but I don't think they had all the background on what had gone down."

He added that if the meet referee or judges had felt he was out of line, they had the option to yellow-card him, take a team deduction, red-card him or ask him to leave the premises, none of which happened. The yellow card/red card system has been in place for a few years, but prior to that, the meet referee had the option to take a team deduction.

That happened to Marsden in 1994 before he pulled his team off the floor at BYU — who is Utah's final regular-season opponent Friday night in the Huntsman Center. The meet referee at BYU in '94 gave Marsden a team deduction, so he removed his team from the competition, taking a 194.125-125.80 loss that ruined a perfect season.

Following the meet at Michigan Saturday, Marsden said he and the meet referee had an amiable discussion "about how awkward it is in the course of the meet (for a displeased coach) to do anything. You can't really inquire (inquiries are allowed only if judges don't award a 10.0 start value for a routine) and can't say anything, and you're not supposed to talk to them (judges) after the meet."

EGGSACTLY: Since the Utes couldn't fly home from Michigan until about 4 p.m. Sunday, they had Easter dinner together and then had an Easter egg hunt along the snow-covered banks of a river near their hotel. The egg hunt was the idea of Ute gym operations director Cameron Linford, and he and coach Megan Marsden set it up. Some Utes participated in flip-flops, but the smart ones wore tennis shoes, said winner Nina Kim, who gathered up 14 eggs and shared the candy inside them with everyone. "It was fun. At first I was like, 'I'm not going to do this,' and then I saw the eggs, and I got into it," she said.

Because the Utes didn't get home until 7 p.m. Sunday and because Marsden worked them hard last week to prepare for Michigan, he gave them Monday off from practice.

NO HOMEBODIES: Following their 197.425-196.325 over previously 18-0 Michigan, the 11-1, No. 2-ranked Utes' average score for their six away meets this season is 197.042. With one home meet left, their average for five Huntsman Center meets is 196.795.

"I'm pleased with that for a couple of reasons," Marsden said. "One because people always accuse you of getting hometown scoring and stuff, so it's nice to go on the road and do even better than you're doing at home."

The other is that regionals and nationals will be on the road. "We have to be road warriors," he said.

Two reasons stand out for why the Utes have been exactly that. First, three of their first four meets were at home. Early scores are usually lower because teams haven't hit form yet. Second, "It really hasn't mattered very much to this team whether we're at home or on the road," Marsden said. "A lot of times in the past, if we weren't in front of our crowd and didn't have that feeling of enthusiasm and people behind us, sometimes we would struggle. That hasn't seemed to be the case this year."

NO PRE-EASTER BASKETT: Baskett pulled herself out of the floor lineup Saturday after landing short on her vault and re-jamming her ankles. She's had apparent bone bruises in the ankles for some time. It doesn't bother her until she lands short. She struggled in floor warmups with the pain and asked Marsden to let Kim go instead.

She is penciled into the all-around for Friday's meet and likely would have competed had it been nationals, Marsden said.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com

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