For the second straight Ute home gymnastics meet, an opponent was wheeled out on a gurney by paramedics after a stunning fall in the first few minutes. That and the fact that Hope Spivey's floor exercise music that got her a 10.0 in her last meet was left home in Georgia helped rob the dual meet of the year of some of its luster Saturday night before a no-promotion crowd of 10,161 in the Huntsman Center.
No. 1-ranked Utah, 8-1, still rang up 194.65 points, fourth-best in school history, and a school team vaulting record (49.0) to down second-ranked Georgia, now 10-3. The 193.25 by the Bulldogs was their fourth-best of the season. They, too, had a school vault record (48.7) - all the more impressive since all-arounder Heather Stepp left after one event after falling on her right arm - fracturing the radial head and doing ligament damage - while warming up for vault. "I heard it pop," said Georgia's other all-arounder, Kelly Macy, a freshman who totaled 38.85 to finish tied with Utah's Missy Marlowe for second behind Ute Shelly Schaerrer, who had 39.1.Macy felt nauseous and ran to a back room after the accident that left several Georgia athletes momentarily in tears.
"We were all very disturbed by the accident because all of us care for Heather. She's a terrific person," said Spivey, the former Olympian who's the first NCAA freshman to ever score a 10. "I don't think that was me," she said of her floor routine improvised to someone else's music. Spivey mentally prepares for such happenstances ahead of time, so she didn't have much problem. She scored 9.75 after going through her impromptu routine twice beforehand.
Spivey would be an all-arounder but has had wrist cartilage problems that kept her out of bars. She scored 9.9 on vault and 9.95 on beam, both career highs. Georgia's also missing all-arounder Lisa Alicea (broken toe).
"The accident is there in the back of your mind," said Schaerrer, who added "you get used to it and try to block in out."
It was the second straight home meet that changed personality with a mishap - Fullerton's Lisa Dolan was wheeled out after a nasty fall from bars Feb. 11.
Macy and Schaerrer both said their teams' strength includes being able to come back from such things, and Georgia certainly did just that in vaulting, with every vaulter scoring or tying her season high.
Utah nailed vault, apparently on for this much-anticipated meet. "I thought we were just going to rock and roll," said Coach Greg Marsden, who refused to use the injury as a reason the Utes made two mistakes per event after that. "At this point of the season, I would like to think we can just walk through our routines," he said.
"I mis-predicted this meet," he said. "It was not the meet it could have been or should have been. It's a bittersweet victory for me when we don't perform well."
Then he did some rethinking. "Maybe I'm not being fair," he said, noting the way the complexion changed after the fall. "It had to take something out of them," he said. "They (Georgia) sure did a nice job coming back."
Bulldog assistant coach Doug McAvinn said, "They came through and held their composure, which is difficult. They're aggressive, they're competitors, and they've competed at high levels for years and know how to hold their focus. I admire their concentration."
Georgia was just .1 behind Utah after two events, but the Bulldogs suffered bobbles on floor to fall off the pace and continued with more troubles on beam until Spivey's 9.95 that was the highlight of the night.
There were five 9.9s by Utes - Amy Keller tied her career high in vault, Marlowe had 9.9 on bars (she's had two 10s), and Kristen Kenoyer, Marlowe and Schaerrer each tied personal bests on floor with 9.9s.
Schaerrer, overshadowed by Marlowe and occasionally Kenoyer this season, said, "I'm back on track. I definitely feel better about my gymnastics." She diagnoses her problem as mental. "I was trying to do what I did last year, but it's different circumstances." She said she needs to concentrate more on foregoing personal goals and hitting four events for the team's sake.
Saturday was Utah's home finale - no postseason home meets - so it was senior Jessica Smith's last Huntsman Center appearance. She scored 9.7 in vault, 9.75 on beam and 9.4 on floor and had a 38.15 all-around total.
Georgia travels to BYU Monday at 7 p.m. Utah closes out its regular season Saturday at BYU.