SALT LAKE CITY — A friendly rivalry is building at the Huntsman Center; the only thing is, this rivalry is not between two teams.
Rather, this rivalry features teammates, and it helped push the ninth-ranked Utah gymnasts to a season-high 196.575 score and a dual-meet win over No. 11 Nebraska on Friday night.
"It's not a mean rivalry at all," said Kyndal Robarts. "This is a fun rivalry that even happens when we are doing our running skills with our strength coach Jon (Webster). You always want to be the first one so you push each other to get there.
"If you can build on a 9.95, then that's great and it makes me want to do well."
Robarts was speaking of Annie DiLuzio's vault. Robarts has been the high Ute scorer for vault in all eight meets this season, including tying for the high score last week at BYU with DiLuzio. But Friday night, DiLuzio topped her teammate after tying her career best of 9.95. Robarts followed up with a 9.875 to give Utah the early lead.
"I'm pretty mental before I vault, so Kyndal tries to calm me down and help me," said DiLuzio. "We're happy for each other, and anytime you stick it and get a good score, you're excited and your team is excited."
The vault is the only event Utah has had a consistent winner.
The next closest is floor, where DiLuzio and Daria Bijak have taken turns grabbing top honors. But even the two of them are feeling pressure from other Utes, such as Robarts.
"We've got to have contribution by a lot of people this year," said Utah coach Greg Marsden. "We don't have the huge name at the end of our lineup. It means everybody throughout the lineup has to step up and do a good job.
"How you do that is get into a friendly rivalry with each other and push it and have fun with it. This will help you get better and better each week."
The all-around has been equally as exciting as the individual events. Bijak earned the win Friday, compiling a 39.425 to tie the team season-high set by Jamie Deetscreek earlier in the season.
"We have the greatest fans and it is fun for them to not know who is going to win either," said DiLuzio. "Each night, we might have a different winner and that means we are pushing each other to do well."
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company