PROVO — Utah gymnasts Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim had a remarkable Senior Night last Friday in front of a large crowd that helped set the NCAA season attendance record against fourth-ranked Florida in a strong Ute victory. Kim scored a career-high 39.60 in the all-around, and Baskett had her third 39.675 in her last five meets.
But tonight at 7 their second-ranked 11-1 team is at No. 52 BYU (4-14) in the Marriott Center to wind out the regular season for both teams. It's the Cougars' Senior Night.
For the Utes, there's little to be proved tonight. Coach Greg Marsden doubts they can rise to No. 1 in the rankings with this last meet, and he doesn't expect any other team to be able to catch Utah for No. 2, so that's likely how they will be seeded into the April 4 NCAA Regionals.
Yet it's still an important night for the Utes.
"It's been an easy job to get this team motivated, and we know that it's another chance to get some experience on the road," said Baskett. "It's good in the fact that we'll get in the road mentality before we go to regionals and nationals, which will be on the road. I really think it's good to do the road experience but don't have to go through the travel."
What Marsden wants to see tonight is, "Our approach, more than anything. I don't think we are as sharp as we were before the break." That break was a rare bye week in after the Feb. 20 meet with Michigan, when the Utes scored 197.575. The last two meets, also at home, they've scored 197.35 and 197.075, winning easily in all three of those meets.
"I want us to work hard in practice and train the little things, and then I want us to get into the meet and let them happen rather than make them happen," Marsden said.
"I don't think it's as much about feeling a need to have a certain score as about feeling a need to finish the season off with a good meet. It's especially important because it's away from our home floor, and that's where we've got to compete throughout the postseason. We've handled that pretty well all year and just want to continue to feel good about how we compete away from the Huntsman Center."
Marsden said junior Daria Bijak's knee that was sore last weekend is now better, and he expects to use her in the all-around again tonight and go with the lineup he'd like to use in the postseason. "We talked a lot about staying focused and using this meet to be where we want to be going into the postseason," he said.
Both Ute seniors said they don't expect to have letdowns tonight after such an emotional and outstanding home finale last week in front of their parents and close friends.
"It was such an amazing night. It was like the best night of my life," said Baskett. "And that's been building for four years. Now that's over and kind of behind me. Now I just get to focus on nationals and focus on my team."
For Kim, Senior Night was different than she expected. "Something inside of me, I didn't feel stressed. I just felt so happy to be there and for (family and friends) to be there, and I just had so much fun. I couldn't ask for a more perfect night. It was weird, I think Kris and I handled it well," and she doesn't foresee anything different tonight.