If BYU should beat Utah tonight, it would be big news.

That's because the two schools are meeting in women's gymnastics at the Huntsman Center at 7:30 p.m., and Utah is the old hand at high-powered tumbling while BYU is the newcomer.As the series begins anew, both coaches hope it will build into something more.

"If we could create a rivalry as it is in the other sports," said Utah's Greg Marsden, "it would be healthy for both of us.

"I'm excited," Marsden adds. "They're certainly much improved."

Brad Cattermole is in his first full season running the Cougars after taking over an uncompetitive program in midseason last year. The '89 Cougs have broken the school scoring records for team total, team vaulting and individual all-around this season and are on the way up in a hurry, despite losing two top gymnasts, one to injury and one to marriage, early in the season.

Cattermole says, "Everybody knows Utah's good. There's no way we're going to blow them away, but we want to show them we can compete with them." Utah can score its 192 or so, says Cattermole, but he'd like to see that same judging get BYU into the 189 range, which would be a couple points above the school record. "I want to stay in the ballpark and build on that for the future," he says.

Tonight is exactly one day less than six years after the two schools last had a dual meet. There was bickering between Marsden and the former BYU coaches about meet locations and such, and the series was dropped following the March 14, 1983, match at Utah. When Cattermole took over, he was eager to take up with Utah again, hoping to some day be in the same class. Many of his first recruits are former members of his All-American Club in Orem and competed against many of the Lady Utes when they were younger.

In that respect, it's a home meet and friendly rivalry, Cattermole says, though he wonders how his team will cope with nervousness meeting the nation's top team. Convincing his team it's good has taken much of the season, he says.

Freshman Korie Jackman has the school all-around mark of 37.95 and a best of 9.7 on beam. Marianne Williams has an all-around best of 37.80 and has also hit 9.7 on beam. Shauna Sudbury, Jenny Cardoza and Laurie Brady are all looking good, Cattermole reports, and bars and floor scores are getting better.

Utah is injury-free for the first time, but the Utes have taken three days off because of final exams this week.

Shelly Schaerrer, who may throw her new Tsukahara full vault tonight, will probably go all-around, and Patti Massoels will probably upgrade in a couple of areas and go all-around after missing two meets after a fall from beam. Kris Takahashi scored a meet-high 38.35 at Utah State last week in her '89 A-A debut. Hilarie Portell, Jessica Smith and Missy Marlowe are available for all-around too. "It's a tough decision," Marsden says.

BYU and Utah will meet twice this week as the Cougars host the High Country Conference meet in the Marriott Center Saturday.