Ravell Call, Deseret News
PROVO — After a week of illness and other difficulties, Utah's gymnastics team was kind of patched together for its final meet of the season.
Coach Greg Marsden made several late changes in his lineup, some because he was worried about athletes who had been sick running out of gas and some because he really wanted to see some of his athletes compete on an event before he considers using them in the postseason.
The result was "We got through it," Marsden said of a night that was both off and on for both Utah, which scored 196.70, and BYU, which had a season-best total of 195.80 Friday night in the Marriott Center as both teams concluded the 2011 regular season in the Deseret Duel.
Both will advance to an NCAA regional in two weeks.
"It's kind of coming along for us," said BYU coach Brad Cattermole, whose team suffered its sixth straight loss but scored .6 better than it has all season by getting a season-high 49.275 on bars and season-high 49.05 on beam. Three Cougars popped career-best 9.90s, Madeleine Johnson and Haylee Rollins on bars and Krysten Koval on beam.
The Utes started with a bang, tying their season-high of 49.375 on bars with a 9.90 from Stephanie McAllister and 9.925 from Gael Mackie, who did not train all week because of illness.
Marsden said he wasn't sure Mackie could even get through a bars set, but she obviously concentrated well on her only appearance of the night.
Utah also had a strong 49.30 on floor, getting a career-tying 9.90 from Nansy Damianova and 9.875 from Jacq Johnson, but there were many problems on beam, the final event for the Utes, that kept them from getting a really strong final road score.
Marsden said he didn't really expect to be able to move up much from the No. 7 ranking the Utes held this week and expects to be sent to an April 2 regional at either Denver or Oregon State, unless rankings change drastically Monday. The top 18 ranked teams are seeded into regionals on an "S" curve, which means Nos. 1-12-13 are usually sent to the same regional, Nos. 2-11-14 go to another, 3-10-15 to another, and so on. This can be complicated by teams hosting because they get sent to their own regionals, and some other factors, but Marsden said it looked Friday night as though Denver or Oregon State would be the best possibilities, and he'd be happy with either.
BYU, ranked 26th this week, will likely go to Denver, its home region.
Marsden's been telling his club to compete like it practices, and it did that Friday night — practices haven't been strong the last week because of the illnesses and injuries. But having two weeks to get healthy and refine should help.
"We've obviously got to do some really good training," Marsden said, "and get ready for the ones (meets) that count (postseason).
"We had so many people sick. I feel like it did just hit our team, and it was kind of one person after the other. Our practices weren't as strong.
"I think that showed a little bit tonight, that we weren't quite as strong and people were fighting through things," said Ute junior Stephanie McAllister.
She was the night's all-around winner with 39.275, despite a near-disaster on beam when she missed her hand, landed very hard and just saved it from a fall, scoring 9.675.
"On beam I think I just got ahead of myself. I was just a little off," she said, not blaming her own illness.
Marsden said he wanted to see Victoria Shanley vault after she'd been out several weeks with a back injury, so he inserted her into the lineup late, and she scored 9.75.
He also wanted to see how well freshman Nansy Damianova would do on beam if he were to use her in a couple of weeks. She had a fall on a difficulty-filled routine.
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