Though the top-ranked Ute gymnasts were a fairly determined bunch last week when they traveled to No. 2 Georgia - site of their worst-ever NCAA finish (fifth in 1989) - the Utes held back a bit, not wanting to show the 1991 Georgia team everything they had.
Utah still won 193.55-193.5 in Athens, Ga., one of the hardest places in the country to compete.Tonight at 7 in the Huntsman Center, when the Utes are at home against No. 9 Utah State, Coach Greg Marsden's team will start implementing some of the skills it hopes will eventually bring a second straight NCAA championship.
Sophomore Kristen Kenoyer will likely attempt both of her release moves on bars to join junior Shelly Schaerrer as one of the few college gymnasts to do two releases in one routine.
Sophomore Tracy Richard will upgrade on bars, senior Jessica Smith will add difficulty to what is already one of the more unique floor exercise sets around, and some Utes will upgrade beam dismounts.
"We'll try to continue to roll and throw new stuff this week and next (a Feb. 11 home meet with Cal-Fullerton)," says Marsden.
Last week's win at Georgia was "our biggest regular-season road win ever," he says. Georgia has a big home advantage in that the floor is harder and the crowd more raucous than most places.
Utah is 3-0 and ranked first nationally in both average (193.82) and high score (194.55) as a team. It is ranked first nationally in every event, and junior Missy Marlowe (39.08 average) and Kenoyer (38.9) rank 1-2 in the NCAA all-around list, and Schaerrer and Marlowe have the best single-meet score (39.2) nationally. Schaerrer (38.55) is seventh in average. Marlowe tops the country on bars, and Schaerrer's No. 1 on floor.
Utah has hit 94 percent of its routines and counted only one fall in its three meets.
Utah State (3-2) has some bragging rights, too, coming off its second-best score ever, 189.3 at Southern Utah last Saturday. It was the Aggies' highest road score. Their team record is 192.6 last year at home against New Mexico on March 26. Last year after five meets, Utah State was averaging 184.63; this season it's averaging 187.18, even though USU is still without top all-arounder Stephanie Green, who has a third-degree ankle sprain.
In season average, USU ranks 12th nationally, but in high score (189.3), it rates ninth in the NCAA. The Aggies rank fourth (high score, 48.35) and fifth (average, 47.63) nationally in team floor exercise totals, and seventh (high score, 47.65) nationally in vaulting.
Individually, Julie Ryan rates 15th nationally on floor average (9.67) and 19th on beam (9.57), and Barb Zahl is 12th on beam (9.67) and 21st on floor (9.63). Ryan is making a comeback after serving an LDS mission and scored 9.85 on floor last week, second-best nationally. Zahl is coming off a 38.3 all-around total at SUU, and Michelle Bugbee has scored 38.2 in the all-around.