For sixth-ranked Brigham Young, there's little to lose but something to be gained, and for No. 1-ranked Utah, it's a chance for a kind of dress rehearsal for the NCAA championship road Saturday night when the Western Athletic Conference holds its first women's gymnastics championships at University of New Mexico at 7 p.m.
There seems little chance of anything but a one-two finish for the two teams from Utah in this meet. The only other teams entered are 5-7 Boise State, 2-6 Denver and 2-9-1 New Mexico, none of whom are ranked in the national top 20.In past years, Utah and BYU competed with Utah State and other highly rated teams in the High Country Athletic Conference meet, which provided more competition, but the HCAC was dissolved after last season. Utah State is without a conference.
The Utes remain the nation's top team in both team score and in every event, and Missy Marlowe retains her NCAA all-around lead with Kristen Kenoyer third and Shelly Schaerrer fifth. Marlowe also is the top uneven bar-worker in the nation, and Schaerrer is tied for the lead in floor exercise.
The reason this meet can't hurt either entry from the state is that NCAA regional entrance is based on Regional Qualifying Scores - the average of the five best scores of the season, with two from away meets - and they already rank one-two in the region and can't lose ground. "In terms of overall importance the WAC meet can't hurt us, but it could help us if we can get a good score," said BYU Coach Brad Cattermole.
For Utah, which should be favored going into the national championships, the WAC meet is a chance to go through the big-meet process, which involves sitting out a rotation or two. ""In that sense," says Coach Greg Marsden, "this meet is good preparation."
Marsden's gymnasts haven't trained hard this week because of final exams, and he says, "We hope our kids can recover from mental fatigue."
Awards will be given to the winner of each individual event and all-conference honors will go to the top four all-arounders.
The NCAA Regional is April 6 at Tucson.