SALT LAKE CITY — Iowa State's 21st-ranked gymnastics team came into the Huntsman Center on Friday night and impressed Utah coach Greg Marsden.
He told Cyclones coach Jay Ronayne as much following Utah's 196.30-195.35 victory in its home-opener to leave the Utes 1-1 for the season.
The score was 2 points better than the Cyclones had hit in their season-opener at home last week, 193.30. But what Marsden was really thinking, at least halfway through the meet, he said, was that maybe he was going to be too impressed with the Cyclones.
They were just .175 point behind the 11th-ranked Utes despite a career-high 9.925 vault from junior Kyndal Robarts and a strong 9.875 bars from senior Jamie Deetscreek after two events. In fact, with just three performers left in the meet, the Utes actually were trailing ISU.
And that was after the final three people in the Ute beam lineup — Annie DiLuzio with 9.85 to tie her career high, Deetscreek with 9.90 and Daria Bijak with 9.85 — pulled the club back into a 49.00 team score on that event.
On floor, those three plus Robarts all had 9.825 or better, on up to DiLuzio's 9.95, while ISU suffered a fall on beam for the Utes to not only pull out a victory but finish with a total that was really quite respectable.
"It helped everybody's mood when the people at the end hit," said Deetscreek.
"I'm proud that they responded the way they did," Marsden said after a week of hard training that followed that 196.60-195.125 loss at UCLA last Saturday. "Overtrained," he said, in hindsight.
He told them going into this meet that they could use that excuse of training too hard, and he'd take the blame if they lost.
"You've got a freebie," he said.
Or he told them they could be aggressive and compete through all the sore muscles, and that's what they eventually did.
They also didn't fold when the first few people in the last two events had falls or low scores.
In fact, a number of the Utes worked their "routines looking like they were in control," Marsden said, adding that he was "encouraged" about Friday's showing.
With arch-rival Georgia coming to the Huntsman Center next Friday — even though it lost Friday at Alabama, 196.275-195.50 — the Utes figure they'll have to improve by leaps for the second week in a row.
Things will be a little lighter in the gym this week, though.
"I can't continue to push like I did this week," Marsden said, though he's still looking for intensity. The biggest things to work on will be mistakes in execution.
"It was hard to crack a smile all week," Deetscreek said of the boot camp-type training they went through in practices, but she, Robarts and DiLuzio added that it was something that was necessary.
"We knew what we needed to do to keep improving," Robarts said.
"Just trying to build on each one," DiLuzio added.
They said the week of work showed up most on floor, the final event and the one that requires the most endurance.
Deetscreek edged fellow senior Bijak 39.425-39.40 for the all-around win, her second career victory. She won the home-opener last year, too.
"It's not so much just winning the all-around, but hitting all my routines was a big confidence boost," said Deetscreek, who holds the school record of 64 straight hit routines, a string broken at the NCAAs last April.
She also had a fall from beam last week.
Iowa State got 39.125 from Michelle Browing and a 9.90 vault from Celine Paulus, who scored 9.675 last week.
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