SALT LAKE CITY — Utah gymnastics co-head coach Greg Marsden said his team is in a “batter’s slump” when it comes to the beam. The harder the Red Rocks try to get out of it, the worse it gets.
The event has challenged the Red Rocks the past few seasons, and it cost them a win at No. 12 Stanford on Monday despite entering the final event with a half-point lead.
“Beam was the obvious meltdown where we didn’t have anybody do what they were capable of,” Marsden said.
Utah had two falls and a handful of balance checks on beam in its first loss of the season. Marsden said the pressure situation of Stanford performing well to gain ground on Utah could have had something to do with the “meltdown” because no matter how hard the coaches tried to recreate pressure situations in practice, it just wasn't the same as being in a meet.
The puzzling part for Marsden and the rest of the coaching staff is the team continues to thrive on its other three events, leaving no doubt it's full of talent. But having the lowest beam score of the season six meets into the year means all is not well on the apparatus.
“I told our team it’s not something you can run away from or ignore. You have to admit there’s a problem and find a way to deal with and resolve it,” said Marsden
So Utah has drawn up a new game plan.
“I talked individually with each beam competitor, and asked what they need us to do as a team to support their beam approach,” co-captain Corrie Lothrop said.
The beam group includes Lothrop, who along with her coaches has concluded that the team might be overthinking the event because there is so much lag time between each routine. This is due to each competitor having to wait for the opposing team to finish its floor routines before they can go. Floor is the longest event in a meet, and that lag time typically grows if the meet is televised — as the past two meets were and Saturday’s meet against No. 11 Oregon State will be.
“We have so much time that we just surround everyone when we are on beam,” said Lothrop. “I really think we need to back off of it some."
The gymnasts are playing around with new ideas, like singing, to keep them focused while they are on the apparatus.
Marsden is not sure if Georgia Dabritz will stay in the beam lineup over Breanna Hughes or anyone else, and is quick to squash any questions about whether the current lineup is the best group for the Utes.
“Our beam lineup for the most part is our beam lineup, and this is the best group to give us a chance to hit big scores,” Marsden said.
“Our practice on beam the last two weeks was absolutely ideal, and Wednesday we were right back in the gym and nailed our stuff. We need to be making the transition from training to competition,” said Marsden. “We really just need a few good beam sets under our belt to build our confidence.”
Fourth-ranked Utah gets its chance Saturday when it hosts the reigning Pac-12 champion, Oregon State, which has not beaten Utah in Salt Lake City. Utah is unsure if Becky Tutka will be back on floor after tweaking her Achilles Monday or if Kailah Delaney will sub again.
The meet begins at 6 p.m., and fans wanting to see some of their past favorites should be in their seats by 5:45 p.m. for an alumni presentation.