There was a team weight-training session at 6:30 in the morning Tuesday, and she stayed an hour after Monday night's meet to sign autographs, so former Olympian Missy Marlowe didn't spend a lot of time celebrating the crowning achievement of her career - a 10.0 on the uneven bars.
She watched replays of her performance on a couple of television newscasts, had a few friends over for a visit, then tried to sleep. She didn't do that very well, but she says she never does sleep after meets anyway."It wasn't so much the routine as that I kept thinking I finally did it. I can't believe it," says Marlowe, a University of Utah junior and native Salt Laker who traveled the world as a member of the U.S. national team before turning to collegiate gymnastics.
"I was thinking I'd go through my whole career and meet about every major goal and not get it," she says.
Marlowe's was the fourth 10.0 score ever in NCAA women's gymnastics and only the second on bars.
Now that she's got one perfect score, she'd like more and even plans to mess with success. She wants to change that perfect routine, adding a tougher dismount, even though the original dismount was what had her most concerned as she stepped onto the mat Monday. "I knew if I could stick the dismount I'd feel like I had it," says Marlowe.
With a higher-rated dismount, she can scrap the handstand full pirouette near the end of the routine. That always gives her trouble, she says, because she's tired by then and has trouble keeping her feet together.
Marlowe admits she was going for the 10 like never before, having gotten 9.9 in her last meet after stepping on the dismount.
In that previous meet, Feb. 2, Marlowe barely missed on bars and actually received a "perfect" 9.9 on balance beam - the judges considered that routine to start at 9.9 and gave her just that. She scored an NCAA-record 39.5 in all-around that night.
On Monday, "I didn't think I could beat that all-around score," she says, "so I said I might have some problems elsewhere, but I wanted a 10. I said that the meet before also, but I was so thrilled with the 39.5 I didn't mind not getting the 10."
After a career-high 9.9 vault, and with Shelly Schaerrer warming up the judges with a 9.85 just before Marlowe's routine, conditions were right for Marlowe, whose perfect moment came in front of an NCAA-record promotion-night crowd of 15,238 that included her parents and her grandmother. She signed so many autographs, she didn't get to talk to them much. "They knew what it meant," she says.The first perfect routine in Ute/Marlowe history started with a straddle mount over the low bar followed by a high-bar cast to handstand. That handstand was straight-up, and that's not easy to do because of the danger of falling all the way over. Most gymnasts sell it a couple degrees short to be safe.
That was followed by her super-straight swing moves - most gymnasts have to bend or split their legs to swing around the high bar, but Marlowe does it fully extended. "I had such great bar coaches," she explains, citing Mark Lee of Rocky Mountain Gymnastics in Murray, who coached her through the Olympics, and Utah's Jim Stephenson.
From the swing she goes into her big release, the reverse Hecht, a blind-catch, backward straddle. "I just have to go my hardest," she says. She often thinks too much about it. From there, it's a counter swing and release from the high bar that puts her into a stationary, ramrod-straight handstand on the low bar. "It's really a very simple move," she says, but when it's snapped as perfectly into place as she did it Monday, it's sign of complete control. "That's the details," she says.
From there, it's a double-leg stoop to a sit-and-bounce off the low bar, back to the high, a kip to handstand, a giant swing, full pirouette, giant and the dismount - a piked double flyaway.
"When I came to college (three months after the 1988 Olympics), I didn't know if I'd be as good as I was, I didn't know if I wanted to work that hard," says Marlowe. She'd burned out a bit. She got through her freshman year, improved to one of the country's best collegians last year and decided this year to go for it all again.
"This year, I'm comparing myself back to '88," she says. "The interest is back, I love it again, the work is worth it again."
And, she says, her bars and beam routines are "comparable if not better" to those in her international days, "and floor is really close."
The 5-0 Utes head to Oregon State for another meet on Friday night.