LINCOLN, Neb. A big night by Nina Kim helped top-ranked Utah to a closer-than-it looks 196.525-195.725 victory over No. 12 Nebraska in a women's gymnastics dual meet Friday night.
Kim, whose career-high 9.925 as Utah's final competitor sealed the victory, won the all-around with a season-tying score of 39.50. It was the senior's first all-around win of 2009 and it came at a good time.
Utah had built a comfortable one-point lead heading into the balance beam, and about all that could send the Utes to their fifth loss in six tries in Lincoln was two falls and a few breaks. But when normally reliable Kyndal Robarts fell as Utah's leadoff performer, the pressure mounted for the remaining five Utes. Nebraska was doing its part to put on the heat by picking up one big score after another on the floor.
As they have all year long, the Utes responded to their teammate's fall by aggressively attacking the apparatus. Kristina Baskett, for instance, possibly saved the meet when she appeared headed for a crash-landing on her kick-over. But the senior, who had scored a 9.875 or better on the three apparatus leading up to the beam, defied gravity furiously wind-milling her arms and stayed aboard.
While her 9.65 was her worst beam score of the year, it was good enough. Then Kim walked through her routine without an error and the Utes had their first dual-meet win in Lincoln and only their second win there since the 1995 NCAA Regionals.
Utah used five all-arounders for the first time in recent memory. Kim won top honors with a 39.50, Baskett (39.30) placed second and Daria Bijak and Deetscreek (39.225) tied for third. It was a season high for Bijak. Gael Mackie, who fell on the floor only to redeem herself on the beam with a 9.725 immediately after Robarts' fall, placed seventh (38.500).
Individual event winners for the Utes were Kim, DiLuzio and Baskett on vault (9.875), Baskett on bars (9.90) and Kim on beam (9.925).
Things were all knotted up after one event, with the Utes scoring a 49.10 on the bars and Nebraska on the vault. All six Utes hit their routines and a beautifully executed routine by Baskett at the end of the lineup earned the lone 9.90 for the nation's top-ranked bars team.
Utah pulled away in the second rotation, putting together a solid vault set for a 49.250 even while Nebraska was struggling over on the bars, counting a fall and going 48.40. All six Utes scored a 9.80 or better on vault and Kim, Annie DiLuzio and Baskett each drew a 9.875 from the bottom of the lineup. After two rotations, Utah led 98.350-97.500.
Nebraska clawed back on the third rotation, scoring a 48.925 on the beam only slightly behind Utah's 49.150 on the floor. Jamie Deetscreek opened Utah's floor set with a pretty looking 9.825 and Mackie looked headed for a big score before falling at the end of her last tumbling pass. With the pressure on, Bijak (9.725), Kim (9.875), Baskett (9.875) and DiLuzio (9.85) came through. Bijak had a 9.85 but was docked a tenth for a neutral deduction from the judges' table near the middle of the mat. It appeared from seats by the corner in question that she landed in bounds but there were not any line judges. The Utes led by a point going into the final event-147.500-146.425.
A big chunk of the cushion disappeared immediately when Robarts fell off the beam from the leadoff position for the first time this season. With the meet hanging in the balance, Mackie hit a 9.725 and Deetscreek (9.85) and Bijak (9.875) appeared completely at ease. After Baskett's near fall, Kim posted a 9.925 and Utah earned a 49.025.
SUU 194.875, BYU 192.100: At Cedar City, Southern Utah's Jenna Vogt and Melissa Johnson each recorded new career highs in the all-around, helping the Thunderbirds to a 194.875-192.100 victory over Brigham Young University on Friday night.
The win marked the second week in a row that SUU has handed BYU a loss in women's gymnastics.
"We still have yet to have a perfect meet this season," SUU head coach Scott Bauman said after the meet as the Thunderbirds had to count a fall on beam. "However, I like the grit and determination that I'm seeing in the girls. I know that we are close, and I know that the girls know what they can do to improve those areas that we are lacking. We just need that last little bit of consistency." Southern Utah led start to finish during the meet, opening with a 48.750 on vault with Lindsey Schultz and Elise Wheeler leading the way with matching 9.775's. The mark tied the pair for first-place individually with BYU's Megan Donehue. SUU finished the event with all of the scores in the 9.700 range with Vogt (9.750), Johnson (9.725) and Kellie Dangerfield (9.725) rounding out the team score.
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The T-Birds' sweep continued in the all-around with Vogt (39.225) and Johnson (39.075) each scoring career highs to capture first and second place. Wheeler (39.050) and Dangerfield (38.800) rounded out the top four with BYU's Goldman finishing in fifth with a 36.475.
Southern Utah will be back in action next weekend when the Thunderbirds host the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Centrum Arena. The meet is the first ever Breast Cancer Awareness Meet that the T-Birds have hosted and will also mark the return of former SUU assistant coach Caleb Phillips who is now at Iowa. The competition is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.