ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A bad start and a worse finish sent the Utah gymnasts reeling to their first loss since Jan. 9, 195.725-195.100 to Michigan.
It was the low score of the season for the Utes, who made numerous lineup changes during the meet in an unsuccessful attempt to right their ship.
"We are heading in the wrong direction," said co-head coach Greg Marsden. "Stephanie McAllister really struggled and Jamie (Deetscreek) obviously completely checked out. It's really hard when you lose two of your better kids because they really didn't come to play."
They were two of three big problems on the opening event. McAllister and Cortni Beers both hit their feet on the low bar, which is a two-tenths deduction. Utah's final competitor, the normally high-scoring Deetscreek, missed elements throughout her routine and then fell on her dismount, scoring an 8.050. When the senior All-American struggled on her vault in the next rotation, Marsden pulled her from the floor and beam lineups.
Four who did come to play were Kyndal Robarts, Daria Bijak, Annie DiLuzio and Jacquelyn Johnson. Robarts won the vault with a 9.95 and took third in the all-around (39.275), despite being sick all week. Bijak came up big on floor (9.90) and placed fourth all-around with a 39.225. DiLuzio put together a solid night with a 9.875 vault, and a 9.825 on beam and floor. Also performing well was Johnson on bars and floor.
"Kyndal did a great job," said Marsden. "She had strep on Monday and didn't come around for the rest of the week. Daria had her high points and her struggles."
Marsden made special note of Johnson, a last-minute replacement on floor for Deetscreek. Johnson, who earlier had Utah's highest bar score (a 9.775), led off Utah's floor set with a 9.75.
The worst bar score of the year started things off on the wrong foot for the Utes, who quickly fell behind by a 49.225-48.475 margin. The front part of Utah's lineup was impacted by tight scoring, but Deetscreek's debacle at the anchor hurt the most and forced the Utes to count a 9.60 from Beers.
Utah bounced back on vault, and a solid set turned spectacular at the end when both DiLuzio and Robarts threw nearly flawless vaults. Robarts received a 10.0 from one judge, before finishing with a 9.95. DiLuzio settled for a 9.875. Two falls off bars by the Wolverines helped the Utes take the lead 97.675-97.625.
Johnson set the tone for a floor set that briefly maintained Utah's lead. In her first floor routine this season and just the second of her career, Johnson opened with a 9.75. The highlight came from the No. 4 post, where Bijak powered to a 9.90. Robarts and DiLuzio finished the set with 9.825s and Utah totaled a 49.050. After three events, the Utes clung to three-tenths of a point lead, 146.725-146.425.
That edge disappeared almost instantly when McAllister and freshman Fumina Kobayashi — competing her first time to count — both fell. Kobayashi replaced Deetscreek in place of scheduled alternate Katelyn Mohr, who tweaked her back during the pre-meet warm-ups. From then on, the Utes were solid — DiLuzio and Robarts tied for second with a 9.825 — but it was too little too late.
Utah dropped to 5-2 in an arena where it has won just twice in eight tries.