ATHENS, Ga. Ashley Postell had the stage one last time in her remarkable gymnastics career. She was the final competitor of the 2008 NCAA women's gymnastics championships Saturday night, the last person to perform on floor exercise in the individual-event finals, and she scored one last 9.90 to close things out at the University of Georgia's Stegeman Coliseum.
The most decorated Ute gymnast ever, holder or co-holder of all five of Utah's major records, an NCAA mark and named the AAI Outstanding Senior Gymnast of the Year on a vote by the NCAA coaches at the annual championships brunch Saturday morning, Postell drew cheers from opposing teams like Alabama as well as her Ute teammates from the stands as she danced her way through that very last routine.
The 9.90 tied her for fourth place on floor a nearly disastrous event for Utah, as junior Kristina Baskett came down hard on her first tumbling pass, jammed her left ankle, collapsed to the carpet and didn't finish. It is thought Baskett likely bruised the ankle bones the way she injured the bones in the right ankle midway through the season. A couple of weeks of rest should restore her bounce.
Baskett walked to the awards podium on crutches but shed them to receive her awards for a tie for second on vault (9.8438) and sixth on bars (9.875), the event she won as a freshman. She totaled 2.55 for the incomplete floor routine.
After the awards, the finalists circled the floor mat, and Postell walked around the floor with an arm around her teammate.
Postell tied for second on balance beam with 9.90 behind Georgia's Grace Taylor (9.95) and scored 9.80 on bars after a bounce on the landing to place 16th of 18. That event went to UCLA senior Tasha Schwikert at 9.9375. Vault was won by LSU's Susan Jackson (9.8563) and floor by Georgia's Courtney McCool (9.9625)
"Yeah, I'm glad to be done," said the Ute senior. "I'll miss it, but I don't know. I had fun this weekend."
Postell said it didn't really feel like her career was over because she still has to finish school and take finals when she gets home, and she said she was satisfied with all she'd done in her career and on Saturday night.
"I know I didn't mess up too much on my beam routine, but I'm sure I could have done a little bit better just to, you know, I don't know what I'm really trying to say, but it could have been a little bit better. But I'm not complaining.
"And floor wasn't so bad," she said.
"I already had a feeling that it didn't really matter what I really did, there was no way I was going to get three 10s.
"I'm not that special."
But she is most special to Ute fans and to her teammates, and she said Friday night's Super Six team championships, in which the Utes placed second largely because of her 39.75 score, was almost more the end of her career than Saturday's event finals.
"Yeah, pretty much, because today is not super important. I mean, it is for the people who qualified it's an honor, it's special for us that made it but I could have scratched tonight, and it would have been fine. It was kind of over last night, and today was to play around."
For Baskett, it was a relief that it was finals night instead of earlier. "I'm glad that if it was supposed to happen that it did tonight and not yesterday," she said.
She was disappointed she couldn't complete the floor routine. "It is an honor (to make finals), and I was excited to make floor because I had struggled with it this year. At least I have a long time to recover, and it's not going to affect the team at all," she said, leaning on the crutches and contemplating her transition now to being a senior.
"It went by really fast, but I think this year was a good prep year for me to kind of follow in Ashley's footsteps, and I feel ready to take on her role next year," Baskett said.
"I think being able to pull through on floor in the two days of (team) competition Greg (Marsden) said that it showed maturity, and I'm going to be put in that situation next year, so it gives me confidence that I was able to do that. I guess I do better under pressure."
Utah freshman Kyndal Robarts considers herself a pretty good vaulter, but she found competing on the third straight night to be far different than she was used to, especially because she was competing mainly for herself and not for a team score.
"It's different nerves because normally it's for the team, and this is like, I don't really know," she said. "It's hard the third night. It's not like the other ones."
On her first vault, she fell.
"It was supposed to be a tuck, but since I kind of bombed my first one, (Marsden) was like, 'Well, you can do the pike if you want. It's not like it matters.' I was going to do a pike and a tuck," she said. She received 1.0 deduction for doing the same vault.
It didn't bother her.
"I'm glad I got to do it. It's not exactly how I wanted to be," said Robarts, who said her first experience at an NCAA championships was "awesome. It's fun to be here with everybody, especially with the team in the hotel is fun."
"It's different. You're not as nervous for yourself (in the first two days of team competition) as you are for everybody else because you want them to do well."Robarts totaled 8.5375 for 10th place.
Ashley Postell's Utah records
All-American awards (20, the most possible and an NCAA record, too)2 comments on this story
Single-season all-around victories (11, tied with Suzanne Metz 1995)
Career all-around victories (30)
Single-season event victories (47)
Career event victories (120)