Utah Utes gymnastics: Utah gymnasts hope 13 is a lucky omen

Published: Sunday, April 20 2008 12:24 a.m. MDT

Thirteen years ago was when the University of Utah won its last NCAA women's gymnastics championships.

At Georgia, where nationals will be again this week.

A year after the Utes hosted nationals in the Huntsman Center. Deja vu there, too.

When the unflappable Suzanne Metz was hitting all those 10s and setting a school record that's within reach of current Ute senior Ashley Postell, who already has three of Utah's top five school records and can break the other two this week when Utah returns to Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum for the NCAA championships Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"So it's all lining up, huh?" said Ute senior Katie Kivisto. "I don't have a problem with the number 13. It is interesting. That's pretty cool. Maybe it will happen again."

"Oooohh, I would say that's good," said a formerly superstitious junior Kristina Baskett about the 13 years and that Utah's last win was where this championship will be again. "That sounds good, but I like all the horoscope stuff and kind of think that stuff is cool."

"Three is my favorite number," said junior Nina Kim.

Since 13 has a three in it, "I'll say it's good. I think we're going in there not expecting anything, just have fun. I am superstitious," she said, adding her home has to be clean before she leaves for a meet, "but I try not to worry about that. If it comes down to that, that's kind of dumb, because I didn't make this routine because it's No. 13."

Most of the Ute club, which is 17-1 this season and entered the postseason ranked second to Georgia but fell to the fifth seed for the national championships due to a low regional score, doesn't put any stock into connecting the history of 13 years ago with now.

"I'm not that superstitious. I think that's in the past, and we're a completely different group now with a completely different game," said senior Jessica Duke. "It's going to be hard already with Georgia and the SEC, but I don't think it has anything to do with that we won there last and that was our last time winning. I'm just excited to go.

"It's just a number," she said. "I used to be very superstitious, but then I figured I'm in control of my body and myself and what I do."

"I won't ever forget winning at Georgia, and doing it like that is sweet in its own way," said associate head coach Megan Marsden, "but I don't feel that 13 years later or the fact that we're at Georgia is going to necessarily bring the special luck we need.

"I think more, we do have a team that's proven they're as good as anyone in the country, so more from that I have a strong feeling that I think we can go and contend."

Utah defeated No. 1 Georgia in the Huntsman Center in the 2008 season opener and has wins over Oregon State, Michigan, UCLA and Arkansas, and its only loss was at Florida, all in the nationals field. Last year, when the Utes hosted the NCAAs, they set the scene for now by finishing a somewhat surprising second to Georgia, which won its third straight title and is favored to win a fourth this week.

"But 13 years, back at Georgia," said Marsden, "that doesn't really come into my mind much."

She does recall Traci Sommer being a freshman in '95 and the two of them looking up into the rafters looking at Georgia's championship banners in all sports as Marsden tried to calm Sommer's nerves just before the Utes won their 10th national championship in their 20th anniversary season.

"You just go do the best you can," said head coach Greg Marsden. "I don't believe in that stuff. It would be nice. We've been close a few times (seconds three times in the last 13 years, including seconds the last two years) but haven't quite gotten it done. It would be nice to get it done, but there are a lot of good teams."

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