PROVO — Friday night will see another adventure in lineup-making for Utah gymnastics coaches Greg and Megan Marsden. For yet another week, they have more injuries and illness to deal with as the seventh-ranked Utes complete the regular season in the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. against No. 26 BYU.
"I might have to wait until (pre-meet) warmups to know what kind of a lineup I can come up with," said Greg Marsden.
Beam leadoff specialist Fumina Kobayashi will miss the meet with back pain. She received an injection Wednesday.
Additionally, several Utes, including senior Gael Mackie, who won the all-around last Saturday at Oregon State, as well as freshman Lia Del Priore, were sick and missed practice early in the week. Junior all-arounder Stephanie McAllister and freshman all-arounder Mary Beth Lofgren were also sick.
Vault specialist Victoria Shanley remains out with back problems, and all-arounder Corrie Lothrop is probably only available for an event or two while she tries to get through the rest of the season with a floating bone chip that causes pain in her ankle. Senior all-arounder Kyndal Robarts remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Freshman Lofgren, a native Utahn, said her slight cold won't bother her as she makes her first appearance against the Cougars. Her mother, the former Deena Robbins, competed as a BYU gymnast in the early 1980s, having spurned Marsden's recruiting — something he never lets her forget. She later graduated from Utah's nursing school, and she and husband Dan, also a Utah grad, are long-time Crimson Club board members who have sponsored one of Utah's gymnastics scholarships for many years.
Oddly, Deena Lofgren can't attend her daughter's debut at the school where she used to compete.
"My mom won't be there because my little brother has high school baseball, but the rest of my family will be there in full support," said Mary Beth, who has another brother on the Cougars' soccer club team.
While half of Utah's team is freshmen this year, the Utes are well-versed in the Red-Blue rivalry because sophomore Kobayashi and freshmen Lofgren and Hailee Hansen grew up in this state.
"Obviously, they know the huge rivalry," said McAllister, a junior from Indiana who added that the other newcomers have been exposed to it through football and other sports, too. "I think by now they realize how big of a rivalry it is."
The Utes have had their usual "no blue" policy in effect in the gym this week.
"We're not wearing any blue. We like to make it an even bigger deal," said McAllister. "We definitely have fun with it. It's actually a pink (breast cancer awareness) meet. We've talked about throwing in some red, too, because we want to take some red to Provo."
Utah is coming off its second straight loss in a low-scoring meet at Oregon State, but Greg Marsden said the team, beset with injuries, continued its improvement and did the best it could.
"I really felt good about it. You could always look at little things that we could have done better, but we did a great job," he said. "I have no complaints, and I really haven't had all year (because of) how this team competes and their demeanor and how they just don't let things bother them too much. It just seems like whoever we put in steps up and does a good job for us.
"That doesn't mean we don't make little mistakes, but every meet has been a good effort by the group as a whole, and from a coaching aspect, that's all you can expect. That's what you talk about, and that's what they've given me this year."
No. 7 Utah (7-3) at No. 26 BYU (10-7-2)
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Marriott Center, Provo
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