SALT LAKE CITY — It was 1990 when Utah earned its seventh national gymnastics championship. Contributing to that championship were three local Utah gymnasts in Missy Marlowe, Shelly Schaerrer and Kris Takahashi. Fast-forward to 2011 and it's the first time since that coveted year three locals are on the Ute lineup card and expected to contribute.
"You just go through different periods," said Utah co-coach Greg Marsden. "For a while we had a quite a few local kids involved in the program.
"Typically we would have one, but it just happened that this (current) class came along and they're all talented in their own way. When those talented locals are out there, we are going to go after them and keep them here in the Huntsman Center."
Fans at the Huntsman Center welcomed the locals loudly Friday night as the Utes opened their season with a 195.7-195.3 upset over No. 1-ranked UCLA.
Contributing greatly to the upset was freshman Mary Beth Lofgren, who hails from Salt Lake City and Olympus Gymnastics club, along with teammate Fumina Kobayashi. Rounding out the local trio is Hailee Hansen, from Bountiful and USA Gymnastics World club.
"We've known each other since we were little kids so it's awesome to be able to compete with each other now rather than against each other," said Kobayashi.
"I think it's exciting for the crowd, and for us to have a lot of fans in that crowd," added Hansen.
Along with strong vault and beam routines, Lofgren strung together an exciting routine to lead off the floor and get Ute fans on their feet as Utah held on to a narrow lead.
"This is really a dream come true to come to the school you've always wanted to go to and then be able to compete right away," said Lofgren.
Kobayashi performed her beam routine as the alternate, recording a 9.8 score.
"Fu's (Kobayashi) going to be tough to keep out of the beam lineup," said Marsden. "She's had some back problems and so we weren't sure where she was at, or she would have been in the lineup tonight."
Hansen was the alternate on bars, but fell in her debut.
"We just have to get Hailee some experience," said Marsden. "She went from not competing much because of injuries to all of a sudden performing in front of 13,000 fans so it just got to her some. She really has a nice bar routine."