Utah Utes gymnastics: Red Rocks still No. 2 in team rankings

By Linda Hamilton

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 11 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

With its best score of the season, 49.45 last Friday in the meet with Arizona State, the University of Utah's balance beam team moved up two places in the NCAA women's gymnastics rankings to the No. 5 spot,

But beam coach Megan Marsden expects more.

"I was disappointed in the number of sticks on dismount. Some people that have been pretty consistent with sticking didn't the other night," said the Utes' associate head coach.

Daria Bijak was proud of sticking her new dismount for the first time, but most of the others had at least small steps that can add up to several tenths in lost scores. "There weren't any big problems, but just a little bit to give away," Marsden said.

"And I don't have anybody doing a really difficult dismount to warrant that," she added. "I feel like we're at a point where they should be able to on-call stick those dismounts because they're not D dismounts, they're not double backs or cartwheel swing-through double twists off the side that are worth a lot."

Such tenths weren't much of an issue against 28th-ranked Arizona State, but this Friday when No. 5 Florida comes to the Huntsman Center, things like that could be important.

"But other than (the steps on beam dismounts), I feel that we're more often doing walk-through routines," said Marsden, whose beam team has scored in the 49s for four straight meets after scoring in the 48s in three of the first five meets.

"There's no balance checks. I did have a couple people with balance checks, but they were really good at what I call 'smoothing through,' where they stylize it so that it doesn't even look like a balance check."

She calls that a "true sign of a collegiate beamer" to be able to cover up small balance checks because, competing every week, it's hard to not have a few minor wobbles.

CROWDED HOUSE: Those who come to see seniors Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim perform on the Huntsman Center floor for the last time Friday against Florida will likely be part of an NCAA and Ute record. Utah, the NCAA attendance champion nearly every year since that governing body took over women's sports in 1982, is on the verge of smashing its own, and the NCAA's, single-season attendance mark.

Utah has averaged an NCAA-best 13,616 spectators per meet through 2009, and it needs only to draw 10,910 Friday to break its 1993 NCAA/school record of 13,164.

"It's exciting. I think it's 16 years old," said coach Greg Marsden of the attendance record that is about to fall. "I think the last two years, we've kind of been building toward this. I think we've been over 12,000 the last couple years."

Marsden finds several reasons that Utah continues to draw so well now. They've been good recently, having finished No. 2 nationally the last three years, and they hosted the NCAA Championships in 2007. "I think that always helps us kind of rejuvenate the crowd and get new people interested," he said.

Additionally, new marketing direction, relatively good weather on most meet nights and even the economy have worked in Utah's favor. "I think we're still pretty affordable for families," Marsden said.

RANKINGS: Baskett retained her second-place status in the all-around (39.54 RQS) and uneven bars (9.92) rankings, but a 9.925 vault Friday wasn't enough to keep her second in that event, and she dropped into a tie for third place.

Utah remained in second as a team with its second-highest score of the season last Friday, 197.35, but lost its No. 1 status on floor, falling to third after Friday's 49.25. The Utes remained No. 2 in vault and bars.

Kim ranks 11th in the all-around (39.385) and sixth on beam (9.89).

NCAA women's gymnastics rankings

By Regional Qualifying Score

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