Utah Utes gymnastics: Red Rocks need to clean up to keep up

Published: Wednesday, March 10 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The year after every summer Olympics, the rules for gymnastics change somewhat.

This is a year under a new judging code, and for a while, only the top teams were scoring in the 196-point range. Alabama had an early 197.45 that got it ranked No. 1, but for the most part, the higher-ranked clubs scored in the 196s and liked it.

"I think in the beginning everybody (judges) was trying to take the deductions (from the new scoring system), and you saw a lot of scores that were lower," said Utah coach Greg Marsden Monday.

"It looked like for a while it was going to be very difficult to get a 197. Well, all of a sudden in the last two weeks, now we're looking at (almost) 198s. Without question, there's some inflation going on."

Last weekend, No. 2 Oklahoma beat No. 1 Alabama 197.95-197.275, and No. 5 Georgia beat No. 3 UCLA 197.90-197.875.

Meanwhile, Utah — ranked ninth for the third straight week — hit its season high of 196.575 in winning at home over No. 11 Nebraska (195.725).

And even though Marsden says scores from other meets or areas of the country can't be compared, it bothers him to see that much distance between his team and its rivals.

"Well, yeah, of course," he said. "You can't help but wonder — are those teams that much better than we are?"

Utah has always been one of the country's strongest programs, though it's in a bit of a reloading season.

"Maybe they are," he said, but he's not sure.

"From what I've been able to watch online, I don't think that's true, especially when we do our thing. Now, we've made some mistakes. We've shot ourselves in the foot more than we would like to, but if we can get things together and do what we're capable of doing and do what we do in practice, I don't think there's anywhere close to that much difference. This can be a very good team; this can be a very competitive team.

"If we'll clean things up and do what we're capable of, it will be good to be on the same floor with people (in the postseason) rather than trying to compare (scores)."

The key is cleaning up in time. There are three regular-season meets left, starting with Friday's home quad meet with No. 8 Oregon State, No. 18 Penn State and No. 21 Southern Utah at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

After that, it's off to No. 4 Florida and then home to No. 35 BYU.

Utah did not count a fall in last Friday's win — for the first time in two weeks. But it counted too many scores in the 9.675-9.75 range to dream about reaching 197.

The good thing was that Utah finished with a season-best floor set (49.425), thanks to Stephanie McAllister (9.85) and Kyndal Robarts (9.90) tying their season highs, Daria Bijak hitting 9.925 and Annie DiLuzio scoring her second 9.95 of the meet (she also had one on vault).

"I also liked seeing the fight," said co-coach Megan Marsden. "I saw some of the fight that I saw in the Georgia meet (196.55-196.50 Utah win Jan. 22). Especially down the stretch, we had some people really step up with great performances, and that was nice to see."

JUDGING: Fans all over the country seem to be seeing some large differences from one judge to another for the same routines. They've complained about it on Internet message boards. Ute fans saw it Friday.

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