It seems strange that a team that has dominated women's collegiate gymnastics all season has to start getting its confidence back, but that's what the Utes are looking forward to tonight at Cal State-Fullerton.
Top-rated University of Utah (6-1) meets No. 14 CSF (3-6) in Titan Gym in a dual meet tonight at 8:30 MST.Utah defeated Fullerton 193.95-186.8 in the Huntsman Center Feb. 11 before an NCAA-record crowd of 15,238, but that meet started what might be called a three-meet slide for the Utes, something they look to halt tonight.
In that meet, Shelly Schaerrer had a fall from beam and stepped out of bounds on floor, and Utah had two falls and four out-of-bounds deductions on floor. The next meet, at Oregon State, Utah had injury problems and lost for the only time this season, despite a good road score of 193.7 to OSU's 193.95. And on Feb. 20, the Utes, in their third meet in 10 days, had their lowest score of the season, 192.4 (USU 190.8).
"Obviously, we haven't been as crisp or consistent the last two or three weeks as we were earlier," says Coach Greg Marsden. "This is still not the time to peak, but it's the time to get our confidence back."
The Utes have had more than a week to train now, and they've made some changes. Missy Marlowe, who scored the only 10.0 in Utah history with her old bar routine - against Fullerton - will debut a completely new routine tonight. "Missy is doing a release move (Voronin) that we're not aware of anyone else in the world doing yet. It's a move taken from the men's high bar," says Marsden.
If judges reward the originality of the new Marlowe routine, she'll stick with it. Otherwise, she'll return to the old one.
Schaerrer's bar routine is rearranged, and Kristen Kenoyer has changed half her bar routine.
Injuries will probably keep freshmen Missy Wells and Jenny Donaldson to one event each tonight, with sophomores Meredith King and Amy Keller filling in for them.
Fullerton will likely be without senior all-arounder Lisa Dolan, whose terrifying fall from bars probably unnerved both teams in their last meet. She sprained her neck and may have torn wrist cartilage, but it appeared worse than that at first.
"Fullerton will be improved from the last time we met," says Marsden, noting that the injury-plagued Titans have lost four all-arounders this season. "Yet they're getting respectably high scores. My hat's off to them for doing as well as they have in a very difficult, frustrating situation," says Marsden. "We need to compete within ourselves and accomplish what we set out to do all week in practice."