Utah Utes gymnastics: Red Rocks looking to dethrone Georgia

By Linda Hamilton

Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 16 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

In a sport that requires as much concentration as any out there, that kind of control that Yoculan alluded to is one of the biggest assets, and it's something the Utes think they have, too. Their pressure comes from wanting to break their own silver streak — three straight seconds.

"We kind of deserve the pressure because we worked really hard, and I think we should look at it in a positive way," said Kim, who expects to perform at 100 percent or nearly so after spending nearly two weeks ill with influenza. The rest of the team is relatively healthy, though Marsden said a few seemed to be coming down with colds. That's not as bad as the flu, he said.

"We're ready. We feel good about it," said Baskett, who said, "This is probably the best I've felt in my gymnastics career. My mind is healthy, I'm healthy physically and I'm the strongest I've been in my gymnastics career."

The talk at the press conferences mainly centered on the nation's top two teams, but Yoculan said, "There are four to six other teams that can win this competition. It's not a Georgia-Utah meet at all."

And Marsden agreed that almost any of the 12 coaches who sat at the dais Wednesday have a chance.

Utah, Georgia, Alabama and UCLA are the only teams to have ever won an NCAA women's gymnastics title.

"There's a lot of teams that could definitely challenge for that position," said Stanford coach Kristen Smyth, whose team nearly nosed Utah out of second place last year, finishing third. "And eventually it will happen. Whether it's sooner or later, I do not know. There are a lot of good teams out there."

"There's nothing better than seeing new teams come in," said. She noted that nobody can take team preliminaries for granted any more. It takes maximum effort just to reach the Super Six.

Marsden sees 'Bama, UCLA, LSU and Stanford as among the more dangerous teams and doesn't count out Florida, which is also strengthening after a year of injury.

"Until we actually get it done," Marsden said, "they're (Georgia) the champions, and everybody else is trying to knock them off."

E-Mail: lham@desnews.com

2009 NCAA Women'sGymnastics Championships

Where: Devaney Sports Center, Lincoln, Neb.

When: Today-Saturday

Teams competing: Utah, UCLA, Illinois, Oregon State, Arkansas, Alabama, Stanford, Penn State, Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, Florida

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