Round 1 goes to Georgia's Kupets

Published: Tuesday, March 7 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

Like a pair of prize fighters battling for control, Utah's Ashley Postell and Georgia's Courtney Kupets duked it out at the Huntsman Center Monday in front of 13,809 screaming fans.
When the bout ended, the margin of separation between the two— .05 in a meet decided by .025 — was hardly worth mentioning. It was a draw, for all practical purposes. Even the coaches said so. But for a pair of competitors like Postell and Kupets, it was a good sizing up of the competition they'll face in a few weeks during the postseason.
Both expect to see each other at nationals. Both believe they can score better than they did Monday night. Both said they look forward to the rematch. So do their teammates — and so do the fans.
"Our goal is to go undefeated throughout the season," Kupets said after she scored a meet-high 39.70 to win all-around honors — her sixth all-around title this season and a career high. "But tonight's win was more about the team. That's what I like about college, as compared to elite gymnastics:. The team element. Everyone's in it together."
For Postell, whose season-high 39.65 all-around score was satisfying but slightly disappointing. "Meets like this keep us focused, she said. "We can do better. We came in believing we can compete with anyone, and I think we proved that tonight."
Utah coach Greg Marsden said Postell is a fierce competitor. One only had to see that in her eyes after her opening tumbling pass on the floor. She stuck her double arabian igniting the crowd and went on to finish with her triple twisting back somersault for an overall score of 9.9. The crowd erupted in a chorus of boos. Kupets' floor routine earlier had netted her a 9.925.
Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said her team still has a lot of work to do. Her 197.100 overall score was good, but "we're only about 80 percent of where we need to be," she said. These tough meets will prepare us for the next level, she said, adding that she expects the national champion to come from one of four schools: Georgia, Alabama, Florida or Utah.
Marsden, whose team finished with 197.075, agrees, but says UCLA will also be in the mix.

E-mail: jringwood@desnews.com

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