When University of Utah junior Kristina Baskett was a young club gymnast in Normandy Park, Wash., she and her friends went to watch University of Washington meets whenever they could.
"I just remember going to all the meets when I was younger. I always had someone I knew on the Washington team. It was the highlight of my week," said Baskett, who returns to Bank of America Arena tonight at 5 MST as a Ute.
Second-ranked Utah (5-0) will meet the unranked Huskies (1-5) in a dual meet tonight before returning home to host Utah State and Southern Utah next Friday in the Huntsman Center.
"I love to watch gymnastics, but I like to do it more," Baskett added.
In Baskett's only other competitive appearance at the University of Washington just her second meet as a Ute freshman in 2006 she dislocated a finger on her right hand during warmups but taped it and didn't let it keep her from showing off her gymnastics to family and friends. She dislocated the finger again during the meet but kept going, scoring 9.9 on vault, 9.75 on floor and 9.85 on bars the event she would win a few months later in the NCAA championships at Oregon State.
Now Baskett is focusing on improving on the off meet she had last week at BYU, in which she overdid her double pike on floor and stepped out of bounds and didn't complete connections on skills on beam, scoring 9.625 and 9.725, respectively, when she's usually .2 or better higher.
She isn't sure how many fans she'll have at Washington tonight, but it will be a significant portion of the audience.
"I think she always gets excited about competing in Seattle," said coach Greg Marsden.
This could also be a big night for freshman Gael Mackie, who may get to compete for the first time as a collegian. Marsden sounded pretty sure he would let Mackie make her debut on bars in this meet that will be attended by most of her immediate family because it's the closest to her home in Vancouver, B.C. At least her parents, sisters and grandmother will be there, she said.
Mackie probably would have competed last week but was one of several Utes who were ill, and she still had a hoarse throat Thursday but said she was feeling much better. Mackie joined the Utes just after Christmas, graduating early from high school and going through a long process with the Canadian government and NCAA to become eligible for this season.
This meet could well see the all-around debut of freshman Kyndal Robarts and the 2008 debut of senior Ashley Postell's full floor routine with the double Arabian start and triple-twist finish, said Marsden.
Postell has been training it that way the past couple of weeks, and he said, "I can tell that, in her mind, she's getting ready to do that. It will depend upon how the floor is and if she's feeling good in warmups."
Postell is seeking her 90th career event title (she has 89). The school record is Theresa Kulikowski's 112. Postell has won six straight beam titles dating back to her NCAA championship on that event last April, and she has won her last five all-arounds, dating back to the NCAA Super Six night. She was sick last week and did only two events at BYU.
Even though several people have been ill, and junior Nina Kim was slowed this week by a mild mid-foot sprain, the Utes are hoping to get most of their difficulty into their routines tonight or by next Friday at home as they then face a month of tough meets at No. 7 UCLA, with No. 11 Oregon State in the Huntsman Center and then at No. 3 Florida and at No. 5 Michigan.Still Marsden won't use Kim or senior Katie Kivisto (ill) tonight unless they're sufficiently recovered because he has depth.