Utah senior Ashley Postell entered Friday night's battle with a mission and a handful of nerves. Lucky for the hungry Huntsman Center crowd, the nerves took a back seat to the mission.
Postell hadn't defeated the Bulldogs in her career and knew the fans would love a victory, at least those who have followed the rivalry and experienced the recent frustrations against Georgia.
Postell was just a sophomore when then-No. 1 Georgia last visited the Huntsman Center in 2006. Utah did all it could to earn the win that night, falling by the narrowest of margins at 197.100-197.075. The same can be said of Postell's performance, where she was just short of the all-around crown, losing to then-freshman Courtney Kupets.
Friday, the senior unknowingly turned the table for the Utes, or as Utah coach Greg Marsden said, "got the monkey off the back."
Postell was the final performer of the night, finishing on the floor. Her team was trailing, but with Georgia faltering on the beam, Utah had an opening and the fans knew it. The senior hit her routine and earned a 9.90 from the judges that left the Red Rock faithful in suspense for a bit before the final score was announced at 196.300-196.200 in favor of Utah.
"It's really nice to win against them (Georgia) and really exciting for these fans. Like we said though, both teams have a long way to go. I think our team and their team will be completely different at nationals than now a completely different competition," said Postell.
A different competition maybe, but Postell still earned the all-around crown in Friday's victory with a 39.525. Her night began with a 9.850, then improved to 9.875 on the bars and 9.90 on the bars before closing on the floor.
Many expected the all-around to be between Postell and Georgia's Kupets, someone Postell had beaten just once before and finished runner-up to one too many times. Instead, Kupets suffered an off night and only the third fall of her collegiate career, while Postell wooed the home crowd.
"Ashley always competes well and typically rises to these types of occasions, but Courtney (Kupets) does too," said Marsden. "In all fairness to Courtney, she's coming back from surgery and has been slowed. Her and Ashley will only get better."
"I'm happy where I'm at to start the season," said Postell. "I don't know if I need a lot of upgrades, but I'm also not ready to do everything I want yet."