The night celebrating 30 years of fantastic gymnastics went off as well as expected, with one bizarre but notable exception Friday night at the Huntsman Center.
Fifty-five former University of Utah gymnasts showed up to be introduced to the crowd before the meet, senior Annabeth Eberle finished her final home regular-season floor routine with a 10.0 to win the all-around from freshman teammate Ashley Postell, the future of U. gymnastics, who had a 10.0 on beam but stepped out of bounds on floor.
Senior Gritt Hofmann scored 9.875s on her final two regular-season routines, though she landed low on one move in her wildly popular floor routine. In a tribute to Utah's crowd, she did last year's routine that was even more liked than this year's by the fans.
Visiting Arizona State had its best meet, causing U. coach Greg Marsden to tell ASU coach John Spini he'd been sandbagging about how down his club was.
Utah put up its second-highest score of the season, 197.725, in defeating the Sun Devils, who had a season-high 196.60.
And former Ute Deidra Graham said yes to a televised marriage proposal prior to the meet.
All that went so well.
And then a brevet (highest-level) judge from Minnesota, who had no personal interest in the meet, changed a score on Eberle's floor routine from 9.95 to 10.0 after having the 9.95 on her score placard and written down on her scorecard.
Mary Ann Case said she was trying to decide between the 9.95 and 10.0 and asked the other judge if she'd given a 10. When the answer was affirmative, Case changed her score that had been visible to much of the crowd for probably 10 seconds.
Asked what deduction in Eberle's score she originally took, Case said she couldn't come up with it. "I was debating. I thought, 'Aw, it should be a 10.' She had a 10, too, so I was satisfied," Case said. "I was between a 9.95 and 10, and I thought, 'Aw, she deserves a 10 compared with what the other children were doing,' so I thought, 'She deserves a 10.' "
Which may be.
But in a sport where judging is such a touchy subject, changing a score is not a welcome sight.
Marsden said in 30 years of coaching he has seen scores changed before, but it's not supposed to happen. Judges are supposed to independently arrive at their scores, which are purposely hidden from the other judges until they are ready to be flashed.
Eberle would have been happy with 9.95, 9.975 or 10, which she's gotten two other times on floor and five other times in her career in various events. "I wasn't expecting a 10," she said.
Sick as she was, Eberle was just happy to be able to compete at all on Senior Night, let alone win the all-around and score a 10.
In fact, about the whole night, she said, "I didn't know what to expect." She had problems breathing and wore down on some of the longer events like beam and floor but still scored 39.675. She has scored 39.675 three times previously, and that ties as the ninth best score in Ute history. Eberle has a career-high of 39.775.
As tears began to flow as she struck her floor-ending pose, Eberle said she was thinking about it being "a year of joy" and Friday being "a fun night."
Hofmann said she recalled going out of bounds on a tumbling pass last week and was thinking about not making that mistake again when she landed a little low. "I am a little frustrated. I am upset about floor," she said. She was happy to have her parents finally get to watch her perform live for the first time in many years - the family is from Berlin, Germany, and her parents rarely got to see meets even in Europe.
Postell, the first Ute to get 10.0s in back-to-back meets on balance beam, said this week's was better than last week's. "I definitely stuck things," she said, noting she slid a bit on one move last week. The reason the 2002 world balance beam champion is doing so well the last few weeks, she said is, "I 'm really relaxed, just get up and do it.""She just looks more comfortable as the season goes on," agreed Marsden, gratified that Eberle, Nicolle Ford, Gabi Onodi and Rachel Tidd all performed well despite each of them having illnesses.