Ute freshman gymnast Stephanie McAllister keeps asking coach Greg Marsden how she can crack the lineups in vault, beam or floor. She has a regular spot on bars.
"Steph is frothing and pushes me every week," he said. "She wants to know what she's got to do to get into the lineup in some places she's not right now. It's not that Steph isn't capable ... it's just that right now, the upperclassmen are also doing a good job."
They get the job, if the gymnastics are equal. "If she demonstrates that she's obviously the better choice, then it doesn't matter whether she's a freshman. She'll get that spot in the lineup," added Marsden.
"He said when I'm upperclassman, then I'll understand," said McAllister, who does see his point but burns for more.
She got to demonstrate her wares on every event in last Friday's 197.525-195.35 home win over Michigan — but her score only counted on bars (9.825, tying her career best). "I am so happy to get the chance to perform," she said.
In the other three events, McAllister was in exhibition, and she wound up with a strong all-around of 39.225. She had 9.825s on beam and floor, 9.75 in vault.
"It was fun," said McAllister, a Junior Olympic all-around champ from Indianapolis who has performed 18 routines to count this season and hit 17 of them.
But, like anybody, she wants more.
"Having patience is tough. I know everyone else here is so good they deserve the spot, and I just have to wait my turn. And I know when I get it, I'll get it. I guess," said McAllister.
And she'll keep asking for it, unusual for a freshman. "Most people wouldn't be bold enough to ask as a freshman," Marsden said. "She's got a very outgoing personality, and she didn't do it at all in a negative way. It was a very positive thing."
HIGH: Utah's season-high score last Friday did not keep it in first place in the national rankings for a fourth straight week. The Utes dropped to No. 2 behind Georgia. The Regional Qualifying Score used to rank teams throws out a team's top score and averages the next five — of which at least three must be from road meets. It's all about which low score a team gets to drop.
"I think we all knew that was coming," Marsden said. "I think we could see that there was really nothing we could do this week that was going to significantly improve our situation, but Georgia had a very good opportunity to do that. It was less about what we could do as the situation Georgia was in."
Probably Georgia deserves to be first. They're undefeated. They beat us head to head. They're the defending champions."
That doesn't mean forever, though. "Until somebody beats them, they're the champions, and we're working hard to do that in April," Marsden said. The NCAA Championships are April 16-18.
Utah still ranks No. 1 on vault and floor. Kristina Baskett is second in all-around, vault and bars.
BYE: For 20 years, Utah went without a bye week. The last two seasons, it's had one. It doesn't compete again until a home meet with Arizona State March 6.
"Work on the little things and see if we can get sharper," Marsden said of what the team will do. "The concern you have is when you're used to competing every week, and have that motivation, will there be a letdown? Might we come out of this a little less sharp when actually we need to even be more sharp?"
That happened last year. Utah went from Feb. 24 to March 7 without a meet and from 197.45 at UCLA to 196.30 vs. Oregon State in the Huntsman Center.
Feb. 23, by Regional Qualifying Score
Team ... RQS ... average ... high score
1 Georgia ... 197.015 ... 196.594 ... 197.250
2 Utah196.885 ... 196.831 ... 197.525
3 Stanford ... 196.590 ... 196.529 ... 197.175
4 UCLA ... 196.340 ... 196.414 ... 197.125
5 Auburn ... 196.260 ... 196.212 ... 196.575
6 LSU ... 196.250 ... 195.966 ... 197.400
7 Florida ... 196.220 ... 196.271 ... 196.875
8 Oregon State ... 196.215 ... 195.856 ... 196.650
9 Arkansas ... 196.210 ... 196.100 ... 196.900
10 Oklahoma ... 196.105 ... 196.111 ... 197.175
35 Southern Utah ... 193.705 ... 194.136 ... 195.675
44 Utah State ... 191.965 ... 191.511 ... 193.600
51 Brigham Young ... 190.685 ... 191.046 ... 192.850