Utah Ute gymnastics: Short people get all the respect at Friday's Red Rocks meet

By Linda Hamilton

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, March 3 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Kristina Baskett "would have liked it when I was little," she said of this week's Utah gymnastics promotion.

And she's still pretty little, 5-foot-1, which is why the senior is the poster child for this year's Short People Appreciation Night when second-ranked Utah hosts No. 28 Arizona State at the Huntsman Center Friday night at 7.

Life-size posters of Baskett will be at each entrance, and those who are shorter than her poster get in for free. Growth-chart posters of Baskett will be given to the first 3,000 fans to enter the building.

Baskett is all for the idea, "you know, for my short people out there," she said, even though she's not actually the shortest on the team. Junior Beth Rizzo is 5-0, but she hasn't competed this season due to an ankle sprain. "We're all pretty short, so anybody you choose will qualify for Short People Appreciation Night.

"It's cool," said Baskett, who is ranked No. 2 nationally in the all-around (49.325 Regional Qualifying Score), vault (9.925) and bars (9.920). She's also eighth on floor (9.885). "It's not every day you get a poster made of you; like, a life-size poster."

She said she will try to keep at least one copy of it for herself afterward, "To show that I was cool once."

RIZZO UPDATE: Rizzo, who badly sprained an ankle doing an exhibition routine in the season opener, is training now and has actually added a punch-double front somersault. She's found that backward tumbling is still a problem, so she's worked on some forward tumbling that doesn't seem to hurt the ankle.

The punch-double front is worth more than the double pike she usually opens with, an E instead of a D in difficulty, and it gives her more variety for whenever she's able to come back, said coach Greg Marsden.

He is not sure Rizzo will compete this year, though he wouldn't hesitate to use her even one or two times. The team is eight or nine deep in most events, and he'd feel loyalty to those who've been available all year. However, he said he doesn't think Rizzo would worry about getting a hardship year and being on the team for six years overall (she redshirted as a freshman), so letting her compete once or twice if needed isn't an issue if it comes to that. "I guess that would be possible. I don't think we'll go in that direction," he said.

RANK: The Utes are No. 2 for the second straight week after spending three weeks at No. 1. They had little chance to move up this week since they had a bye last week, and No. 1 Georgia scored 198.20 in its last meet, highest in the country.

Being idle, the Utes dropped from first to second in vault ranking, though they kept No. 1 on floor. They are also second on bars and seventh on beam.

Individually, Baskett's rankings stayed nearly the same, though she dropped from a tie for sixth on floor to a tie for eighth, both times with teammate Annie DiLuzio.

Nina Kim is 10th and Jamie Deetscreek 14th in all-around, Daria Bijak is fifth on bars, Kim sixth on beam.

RECORD: Utah is on pace to smash its own NCAA season attendance average, a mark that has stood since 1993, the year after Missy Marlowe and Shelly Schaerrer graduated. Utah drew an average of 13,164 in 1993. With two home meets left, the Utes are averaging 13,407.

The last home meet — Senior Night for Baskett and Kim — will be March 13 with Florida. Utah ends the regular season at BYU March 20.

Utah has won the NCAA attendance title 24 of the 27 years in which it's been computed. Utah set a school record for season tickets sold this season with 5,616.

NCAA rankings by regional qualifying score

Team . . RQS . . average . . high score

1 Georgia . . 197.035 . . 196.772 . . 198.200

2 Utah . . 196.885 . . 196.831 . . 197.525

3 Stanford . . 196.590 . . 196.206 . . 197.175

4 Florida . . 196.465 . . 196.319 . . 196.875

5 Alabama . . 196.455 . . 196.297 . . 197.350

6 UCLA . . 196.430 . . 196.434 . . 197.125

7 Oklahoma . . 196.340 . . 196.197 . . 197.175

8 Auburn . . 196.310 . . 196.208 . . 196.575

9 Oregon State . . 196.295 . . 195.911 . . 196.650

10 Arkansas . . 196.290 . . 196.067 . . 196.900

10 LSU . . 196.290 . . 195.986 . . 197.400

26 Southern Utah . . 194.550 . . 194.203 . . 195.675

47 Utah State . . 191.965 . . 191.353 . . 193.600

52 Brigham Young . . 190.715 . . 190.771 . . 192.850

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