Ashley Postell will finish her college eligibility this spring as one of the winningest athletes in University of Utah gymnastics history. She has 93 event titles as she enters this rare two-meet weekend that gives her the chance for 10 more. Utah hosts Southern Utah and Utah State tonight at the Huntsman Center at 7 and then travels to No. 9 UCLA Sunday at 3 p.m. MST.
Kristina Baskett, another steady Ute winner, will be a senior next season.
Not to worry.
Coach Greg Marsden has another all-star in the making in freshman Kyndal Robarts.
"She is our future," Marsden said.
Oh, he's got sophomores Daria Bijak and Annie DiLuzio hitting stride now, sophomore Stephanie Neff could be a big scorer if she gets over injuries, and freshmen Gael Mackie and Jacq Johnson came in with bigger credentials than Robarts, though Johnson's been hurt most of this season and Mackie is just getting into competitive mode after joining the team Dec. 26 after graduating early from high school.
"But Kyndal's the one that's been out there week-in and week-out. Whatever we put her in, she's done a good job," said Marsden, who plans to use Robarts in three events tonight. "She's out there demonstrating that she is going to be (the Postell or Baskett) in our future."
Robarts was an elite for two years in club gymnastics, but she gave up that prestige to have a more normal life and competed most recently at Level 10, while others made their names on national teams before coming to Utah.
Still, she had a lot of schools after her and came to Utah because, "It's a high-level program, but it seems like when you come, well, there's pressure, but it's not in a bad way. I like the fact that there's crowds. When I came on my unofficial (visit), I just felt like I fit."
Robarts has been a Ute regular on vault and beam this season and did bars in two meets, but she only did floor in the opening meet and scored just 9.625 with a very watered-down routine. "I kind of messed up in my routine because my passes were downgraded, and Greg wanted me to not do that. He wanted me to get my better passes ready and start doing floor when I got those done," she said.
She unveiled her impressive power skills on floor last Saturday at Washington, and perhaps the home crowd will get to see some of them tonight. She starts with a double Arabian, does a 2-punch front on the second pass and a double pike on the third. The routine scored 9.9 at Washington.
"It was fun," said Robarts, from San Marcos, Texas.
"It was amazing," said Marsden.
"I feel like she's getting stronger and stronger for us. She started out and was put in difficult situations early and proved that she can handle those and has just continued to get better as the season goes on. Her floor is big-time and the vault is big-time, and beam, she's just solid for us. I don't think she's missed a set all year."
No. 2-ranked, 6-0 Utah will save some of its firepower for Sunday's meet at UCLA, the first of its big-time road meets. It's at No. 3 Florida on March 14 and at No. 4 Michigan on March 22. UCLA is getting some of its injured athletes back, and Marsden expects to see them compete Sunday, and he wants to win that meet.
Southern Utah is 5-2 but unranked this week as it doesn't have enough road meets to have a Regional Qualifying Score. Utah State, 3-7, is ranked 29th.
Tonight's Ute lineup will not see junior Nina Kim, who is hoping her mid-foot sprain is well enough she can compete Sunday. Postell wasn't sure whether she'd do her high-power floor routine with the double Arabian that she did so well at Washington (9.95).