Gymnastics notebook: Subpar opener leaves Red Rocks out of top 10
SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since at least 1984, when Liz Abel became the sports information director and began keeping track of the coaches' poll, the University of Utah's gymnastics team is not ranked in the top 10.
The Utes on Saturday in their season opener at UCLA had their lowest score (195.125) since the 2006 season-opening win — also at UCLA — when they had 194.875 to the Bruins' 193.85.
As always, even when his team is at the top of the poll, or near it, coach Greg Marsden was not concerned about this week's 11th-place ranking after it had gone to Los Angeles with the No. 2 preseason standing.
"Well, obviously, two was too high. I think 11 is too low. We're probably somewhere in between. The polls are meaningless right now. It's just so early.
"We really have to stay focused on, 'This is the way we've always done things.' "
The Utes have rarely done things as they did them Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in front of the best crowd Marsden ever recalls seeing at UCLA, which is usually overshadowed by so many things to do in Southern California.
Still, Marsden said, "That was a good experience. It wasn't the experience we would have chosen, but it's over. It was a good experience. It was a good reminder to the coaching staff and to the team to not take things for granted quite so much."
He added that each team develops in its own way throughout a season.
For instance, the 2009 Alabama team that struggled all season but wound up placing second at the NCAA Championships and nearly winning.
That doesn't mean Saturday's shortcomings will go unnoticed. Repeating a reporter's phrase, he said, "My job is to design training that will help them work through those mistakes. 'Crack the whip' is as good a term as any."
But he also said things are, "OK — as long as we learn from our mistakes and get better. If we wanted to have a for-sure win early in the season, we wouldn't schedule UCLA and Georgia (which comes to the Huntsman Center Jan. 22).
Junior Kyndal Robarts, whose 39.15 all-around performance led the Utes, and who was the ninth-best score in the country on opening weekend, said she got the message.
The feeling she had at UCLA Saturday was something, "Uh, I don't know. I don't to want to repeat it," she said with determination. "Hopefully, it's a once-in-a-season type of feeling."
NOT ALONE: The Utes were hardly alone in not being crisp in their season opener. Four-time defending NCAA champion Georgia is ranked 10th this week, falling from No. 1 in the preseason ratings and just .025 ahead of Utah in this week's poll, that goes solely by high scores, since most teams have had only one meet and some haven't even competed yet. Among other teams usually in the top 10, Stanford ranks 12th, Michigan 13th and LSU 16th.
Iowa State, which will be in the Huntsman Center Friday night for Utah's first home meet, ranks 21st.
RARE FALL: Senior Jamie Deetscreek went through a school-record 64 straight routines without a fall until a misstep on the beam in the NCAA Championships team preliminaries round last April. Saturday, she made it through just three events before falling from beam on her roundoff layout, "the hardest thing in my routine," she said. Monday.
She didn't even think of last year's streak when it happened. And hey, now she's gotten it out of the way right off the bat. "Let's hope so," she said. "It was just a mistake. It was crooked, and I made a mistake. I'll fix it. I was off. It's really easy to be off on beam."
Marsden, who said several of his athletes rushed themselves in Saturday's competition, put Deetscreek's fall into that category. "She's one of the ones that I think she just rushed and got ahead of herself. There were a number of those. They didn't complete the thing in front of it, and the result is a break or a fall."
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