Seems like old times.

After their 197.65-197.30 upset of two-time defending NCAA champion UCLA on Friday night in the Huntsman Center, the Utes are the nation's top-ranked team this week, moving up from fifth in preseason polls. Senior Annabeth Eberle and freshman Ashley Postell are ranked No. 1 in the all-around with sophomore Nicolle Ford ranked sixth.

Utah is ranked No. 1 or 2 in every event.

Rankings at this point are based on high meet scores and will be for another several weeks until every team has enough meets to have overall averages. Utah's and UCLA's scores in Friday's meet were by far the highest in the nation.

That's not wholly unexpected for the two most effective programs in NCAA women's gymnastics, Utah owning a national-record 10 national titles and UCLA having a second-place five NCAA championships, including four of the past five.

Judges were to be keeping scores in check this season, however, and it's difficult to ascertain relative strengths after just one meet and with many teams not having competed yet. However, a number of falls lowered scoring in some meets involving teams usually rated highly, and Utah and UCLA did not count falls.

Judges are now sent to all meets by a national assigner, in hopes of evening out scoring biases. Utah has used this system for a couple of years. Utah's meet had two Utah and two California judges, but a mix-up had the two Utahns together on the vault Friday, with the two Californians judging bars. It was corrected for the next event.

BYU's second-place score (194.325) in the Cancun Classic in Mexico on Friday was apparently unreported to the poll, and the Cougars are not in the rankings but should be 13th. Oklahoma won with 196.90 and is ranked third this week.

Utah State opens Friday, hosting Utah at 6:45 p.m. in the Smith Spectrum.

In individual rankings, Eberle and Postell are No. 1 with 39.625 all-arounds and Ford is sixth at 39.475. Ute sophomore Rachel Tidd, who competed in only two events due to back spasms, ranks No. 1 this week on vault (9.95) and is second on bars (9.95). Postell and Ford are tied for third on beam (9.925), Postell is third in vault (9.925) and Postell and Eberle are tied for fourth on floor (9.95).

NCAA women's gymnastics rankings

As of Jan. 10

By high score

            

Rank Team High score

1 Utah 197.675

2 UCLA 197.300

3 Oklahoma 195.900

3 Michigan 195.900

5 Arizona St. 195.700

6 Michigan St. 195.475

7 Auburn 195.325

8 Oregon St. 195.200

9 Iowa St. 194.925

10 Georgia 194.850

11 Washington 194.625

12 Florida 194.450

(13* BYU 194.325)

13 Arkansas 194.250

14 Nebraska 194.200

15 Maryland 193.975

(*-Not listed in official rankings, score apparently unreported)


E-mail: lham@desnews.com