Utah Utes gymnastics: Mackie adding to all-around goal

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 13 2009 12:44 a.m. MST

Utah sophomore gymnast Gael Mackie, a 2004 Canadian Olympian, thinks of herself as an all-arounder, though her late start in college last year and some other things slowed her down.

She is now making strides toward her goal and toward finally showing her real personality off for Utes fans.

She competed in two events, vault (9.80) and bars (career-high 9.90) last Friday in Utah's season opener in the Huntsman Center against UCLA.

"It felt good to be on more events than one," Mackie said at Monday's practice.

Mackie did well enough on bars, the one event she did all last season, to be tied for No. 3 in the first NCAA rankings of this season, right behind Ute senior Kristina Baskett, whose 9.925 has her No. 2 behind Georgia's Courtney Kupets.

Progressing rapidly, thanks in part to having a full preseason to train, Mackie is also in coach Greg Marsden's mind to perhaps compete on balance beam next Monday when the Utes travel to Georgia for an afternoon meet.

That could change over the week, but he has her penciled into the lineup for now after she scored 9.85 in an exhibition appearance on beam Friday.

If Mackie does three events next week, it will leave only one left for her to conquer, and it's her favorite — floor.

"I did bars at the Olympics, and I started out doing bars here, so I feel like it's my event," Mackie said, "but at the same time, I love doing floor because of the dancing part of it.

"It's interesting because my personality shows off more on beam and floor, the two events that I haven't competed.

"Floor is probably my favorite. It's pretty much ready, but I just have to get more consistent."

Mackie joined the Utes a year earlier than planned by studying hard over the summer of 2007 to finish high school early. But she had to wait to be cleared by the Canadian school system and NCAA, so she didn't arrive on campus until last January. That put her behind in training and conditioning, and shin soreness slowed her further.

"Last year, I mostly did just bars. I did vault a couple of times, but I think that my vault is a lot better this year," Mackie said. "Just being able to participate in preseason, I feel a lot fitter and stronger.

"Last year made me really work hard. I'm an all-around gymnast, and last year was a transition phase for me, so I just want to go back to being that all-around gymnast, and hopefully I'll get there some day."

MORE PROGRESS: Sophomore Kyndal Robarts, who looked to be lost for a month with a torn labrum in her right shoulder, actually began working on some vaults last Thursday and did so well tolerating it, Marsden said it's possible she could vault Monday at Georgia. If she can't, he said he thinks it would be more because she's rusty after nearly a month off than because of the injury, unless she aggravates that in training this week. It's likely the only event she'll work for a while.

RANKINGS: Senior Nina Kim is the nation's No. 1-ranking vaulter this week, her career-best 9.95 from last Friday helping Utah to the NCAA's team No. 1 ranking as well. "That's exciting," she said. "That changes from week to week, but for the week, I will take it."

"I thought vault was very good, other than the landings," said Marsden, whose team totaled 49.425.

Utah also ranks No. 1 on floor, tied with Arkansas in this first week, and is No. 2 behind Florida in overall team rankings based on season average (most teams have had just one meet).

NCAA rankings

Rank team ave High1. Florida 196.500 196.5002. Utah 196.175 196.1753. UCLA 196.075 196.0754. Auburn 196.012 196.3755. Arkansas 195.775 195.7756. Alabama 195.675 195.6757. Stanford 195.600 195.6008. Georgia 195.425 195.42510. Missouri 195.050 195.05040.BYU 189.050 189.12544. Utah State 187.150 187.150NOTE: By total season average. Some teams (including SUU) have not yet competed in the 2009 season.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS