SALT LAKE CITY — A new resolve from Kyndal Robarts and a completely new routine from Jamie Deetscreek, as well as four stuck landings, helped the University of Utah's uneven bars team break out its best score of the season in the regular-season finale last Friday.
The Utes put together a bars score of 49.425 — .175 better than the bars team had scored all season and tying what was the Utes' best score in any event in 2010 until the floor team completed the regular season with 49.55 later that night — to go into the postseason with some real confidence.
Robarts, a junior who had the best night of her career on three events and in the all-around (39.60), tied her career best on bars, and that may have been the most satisfying part of her night. Bars has always been a bit of a struggle for her, especially the handstands. It has sometimes kept her out of the all-around lineup.
But she decided to be aggressive throughout the whole routine, especially on the handstands.
"Before I went up there, I thought to be aggressive, and that really clicked with me," she said in practice this week. "This is the best one so far with my handstands."
Hitting straight-up handstands is imperative for scoring well, and while it doesn't look that difficult to the audience, Robarts disagrees.
"Well, it kind of is because (if) you go over, there's not much you can do about it, so I think you worry about hitting it right on because you don't want to go over."
On Friday night, she went right at her handstands and was rewarded for that.
Robarts' night also included a 9.925 vault, the only event in which she didn't set or tie a career high, a career-best 9.925 beam and career-tying 9.90 on floor.
"I was nervous, but I was confident in what I was doing. I knew I was going to hit before I went out there, and that made me do a little better," Robarts said.
Deetscreek, a senior, debuted a new bars routine last Friday and received 9.90 to tie her season high, .25 off her career high.
"It was a new bar routine for me, so I was pretty excited to do that," she said, noting that bars coach Jeff Graba and head coach Greg Marsden "kind of talked about (making the change). It's a short routine and takes out a few skills, and a few handstands that I haven't been hitting," Deetscreek said. "And it's also more value than my other routine, even though it's shorter. It was kind of like a last-minute decision, but it worked out well, so I'm happy with it."
She plans to keep using the new routine in the postseason, which starts Saturday, April 10, when 10th-ranked Utah hosts the 2010 NCAA North Central Regional at the Huntsman Center starting at 6 p.m. Other teams in the regional will be No. 4 Florida, No. 16 Auburn, No. 19 Boise State, No. 22 Denver and No. 23 Washington.
The top two finishers in the regional advance to the 2010 NCAA Championships at Florida April 22-24.
BEAMING: The Ute beam team was the only thing that kept the Utes from posting their first 197-plus score of the season last Friday. They totaled 196.95 while scoring just 48.625 with two falls on beam.
After scoring 49-49.15 four meets in a row since the season-opener, the Utes have hit 49.0 just once on beam in the last seven meets, and that must improve.
"This is something that's gotten in our head the last half of the season," Marsden said.
Hoping to improve things, co-coach Megan Marsden, who coaches beamers, is making some changes.
"I'm making a couple of adjustments in routines to help a couple of people feel more confident, and then we're going to train a lot of beam and see if just sheer numbers of routines will help build some confidence," she said.
Greg Marsden adds, "Yeah, try to mix things up, which we always try to do a little bit because it gets very repetitious at this point of year, plus we want to try to mix things up on that event and help get a different effect, a different outcome. You've got to keep trying different things.
"I realize it's mental, but we've got to do some things that help them."
POSTSEASON BIDS: Greg Marsden said he's bid to host regionals every year, except in 2007, when Utah last hosted the national championships. But the North Central Region has several teams that want to host — Minnesota, Denver, Iowa, Utah State. Some regions, like the Northeast, have problems finding a host, so Marsden said next year, Alabama will host what should be the Northeast's regional.
Also, it is possible Utah will bid on hosting another nationals at some point. In 2007, it was thought that would be the last time Utah could host because there was a movement to have all national championship meets held on a podium, and Utah can't install one in the Huntsman Center. But the measure was not adopted, so unless it is, the Utes would be eligible to again hold the NCAAs in Salt Lake City.