The Lady Utes will very likely be without junior Kris Takahashi, victim of an auto accident, and could well be minus one or two other gymnasts as they get their return engagement with fired-up defending NCAA champion Alabama Saturday at 6 p.m. MST in Tuscaloosa.
Takahashi suffered bruises and swelling to the face and head after going through the windshield, and she injured a hand enough that it swelled. Coach Greg Marsden was still holding out hope as the Utes prepared to leave for Alabama that Takahashi could compete on balance beam Saturday, but he considered that doubtful.He also feared the same kind of flu outbreak that struck Alabama when the Crimson Tide visited Utah Jan. 30, and the Utes won 191.55-187.55, setting a school scoring record as well as an NCAA attendance mark (13,434).
"We may be completely reversing roles," Marsden said about the injury/illness factor. "Whatever it is, we've just got to deal with it."
Marsden said Patti Massoels, Kristi Pinnick and Missy Marlowe all showed signs of illness.
Because the Utes improved so much in their second road meet, last week at Arizona State, a 190.20-189.75 win, just their second-ever dual victory in Tempe, Marsden was feeling better about the Alabama meet, except for the illnesses and injuries.
"Both our road meets were over 190," he said of the scores. In fact, the Utes' road average of 190.38 is higher than their home average because the home meets came earlier in the season.
"This would be a good place to go and have a good meet," he said, but he added, "there's nothing positive about it - they're going to be out to embarrass us the way we did them here."
Alabama has added difficulty to its routines since competing at Utah and has scored 191.60 and 191.05. It lost at Florida and is 5-2. Utah is 5-1.
Though the Tide lost at Gainesville, junior Marie Robbins set a school record scoring 38.75 in the all-around. She might have won the all-around at Utah, despite having flu, but fell off beam, her final event. Marlowe ended up winning with 38.40. Alabaman Kim Masters has scored 38.35.