Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News</i>
Nicole Ford, who tied for second in the all-around on Saturday, competes in the floor exercise for the No. 1-ranked Ute gymnasts.

PROVO — Things didn't go perfectly for everybody. In fact, Ute Ashley Postell's no-fall streak was finally broken.

But Brigham Young's gymnastics team posted its best score of the season, giving it a chance to move up in the national rankings, and Utah had its best road score, meaning it may be able to retain its No. 1 ranking when the final Regional Qualifying Scores and regional assignments are released Monday.

Saturday night, Utah defeated the Cougars 197.45-196.825 at the Marriott Center on the Cougars' senior night, and Cougar Jaime Mabray went out with a season-high 39.50 to tie Utah's Nicolle Ford for second in the all-around behind Ute sophomore Rachel Tidd.

Tidd has battled back spasms and a three-week-long illness with an ear infection and headaches. But she got back into the all-around lineup for the first time since March 4 with quite a bang — her season high and second all-around win of the season.

Tidd scored 39.575 to 39.50s for Ford and Mabray with Ute Annabeth Eberle scoring 39.40 despite a 9.675 for a couple of wobbles on the beam.

"I was getting really frustrated," Tidd said about having to miss so many events this season and not being able to practice at full strength.

"It gives me a lot more confidence. I know I can do it now," said Tidd, who missed competing at the NCAA championships last spring because of mononucleosis.

"No, I promise," she said about missing more postseason meets.

Utah will host the North Central Regional April 9, and, depending upon how all the other teams shake out in the rankings, BYU could be sent there or could be in any of several other spots. The teams will find out their postseason assignments on Monday, although Utah is assured of being at home as the host school.

The top two teams in each of the country's six regionals advance to the 2005 NCAA Championships at Auburn March 21-23.

The Utes said they don't really worry about which teams are assigned to their regional. "I really don't care who's coming, if this team does as it's supposed to," said U. coach Greg Marsden, who got most of what he had asked the Utes for in this meet. He'd wanted a quick start, which he said he got even if BYU led after the first rotation, 49.45-49.375. Utah came back with a 49.60 vault to make the start seem quicker.

The Utes had a fall each on floor and beam but didn't have to count either one.

"We're pretty comfortable and excited waiting for it to get here," said Ford of the postseason. "Bring it on. We're at home, in front of our home crowd, on our own equipment. Just do what we do, and we'll be fine."

Marsden was interested to see how Postell, a freshman and near-Olympian, would come back from her first fall of the season after 43 straight "hit" routines. The Ute and NCAA record is 56 straight by Suzanne Metz in 1995, when she was a senior. Postell did just fine, coming back on beam with 9.975 — after scoring 10.0s on beam the last two meets. She came into the week ranked No. 1 nationally in that event.

"Oh, pshhhh. That's OK," Postell said about her miss on floor. She was trying to do a double-back on her last tumbling pass. Last week was the first time she tried it, and she over-rotated and went out of bounds on Saturday. This time she "blocked too high," under-turned it and wound up touching her hands down on the floor - which counts as a fall.

"It's not something I'm worried about. I kind of expected it as it was just the second time doing it," Postell said.

BYU coach Brad Cattermole was happy to see some fire in his team's eyes prior to the meet. The Cougars have had an up-and-down season. "This night they came out like they wanted to be here. The attitude was they'd give it their best shot. The fight they had is the thing."

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The Cougars even outscored Utah on balance beam, 49.40-49.325. And that got Marsden talking to his team about his other goal — slamming the door. And they did that by ending with that beam score that kept BYU from being able to come back with 49.25 on floor.

BYU had a boatload of career and season highs individually, especially on vault. Five of the Cougars' six scores were career bests and two equaled or surpassed season highs. It added up to the third-best vault score in Y. history, and the beam score was No. 4 for the Cougars.

Utah had a season high on vault, with Ford tying her career high (9.925) and Postell setting a career best (9.95).