"We're peaking now, and this is the time that every coach likes to peak. Our conference and individual goals were reached, and our goals are going to culminate here in Athens."
Yoculan barbed Marsden, saying the pressure of having the No. 1 seed at home is difficult and asking if Utah was No. 1 when it hosted last year and finished second. (Utah was No. 2 last year with Florida the No. 1 seed and Georgia No. 3.) Yoculan then said it's easier to win from a No. 5 seed because expectations are less. Utah, of course, is the No. 5 seed another dig.
"Tell her I'd sure trade places with her," Marsden said of the Nos. 1 and 5 seeds.
She also ran with a Marsden comment about the Southeast Conference which has five of the 12 teams in this field. He said he appreciates it that the SEC is allowing the outsiders to compete in "the second round of the SEC championships."
She said SEC teams are more prepared for a championship at Stegeman because SEC conference meets "are so incredibly intense" so they are used to that sort of environment.
Marsden, though, said he doesn't see his team melting down. "We've intentionally tried to put ourselves in high-pressure situations," though he conceded, "Their advantage is location, location, location."
The Utes will open tonight's competition with the bye before bars, and its first event will be bars, with senior Jessica Duke leading off, a slight change from regionals, when sophomore Jamie Deetscreek was first.
"Jess has been a rock for us all year; we're at nationals. She really relishes that position and is excited about playing that role," Marsden said.
Other changes will see senior Katie Kivisto back in the floor lineup, junior Nina Kim back from injury as second up in the bars lineup and starting the Ute vault as Marsden goes with experience.
This NCAA championships will be the first since 2005 at Auburn to be held on the podium, like international meets. The podium is now mandated by the NCAA, meaning Utah may not host again despite its huge attendance, because the Huntsman Center floor isn't big enough.So the Utes will have to get used to competing on the road, where this season they actually had a better average than in home meets.
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