We have the potential if we continue to improve our execution. Our compensation is really good this year on every event. As long as we stay healthy and continue to improve our execution, we can sincerely compete with anybody. —Greg Marsden, Utah co-head coach
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden said the key to his team's season would be if it could take its execution to the next level. His team answered Friday night en route to a 197.4-191.925 victory over Utah State in the Huntsman Center. The fifth-ranked Utes, who kept the Aggies winless in the Huntsman Center, hadn't posted a 197.0 since the NCAA Championships in 2009.
"Last year our team was good, but I think there was a ceiling that for us to be successful beyond that some other people would have to make mistakes," said Marsden. "This year I don't feel like we have that ceiling.
"We have the potential if we continue to improve our execution. Our compensation is really good this year on every event. As long as we stay healthy and continue to improve our execution, we can sincerely compete with anybody."
Marsden also noted the difference with this year's team is their starting competitors would have been their final performers in other years, pointing out this year's lineups are deep and strong even into exhibition routines.
Utah only had one score below a 9.8, but didn't have to count it Friday as they did last week in a close loss to UCLA. The Utes also bested their bars score from a week ago by pounding out a 49.375 compared to 48.45.
"The only turnaround was bars. I didn't really think last week was representative of how we had been training that event," said Marsden. "This week was more representative of our bars."
Freshman Georgia Dabritz won the bars, notching a 9.95 after falling last week on the event. Corrie Lothrop was right behind with a 9.9.
"Last week I forced it too much. This week I settled down and let it swing," said Dabritz.
Dabritz also won the floor with a 9.975, which brought the crowd to its feet as one judge rewarded her with a 10. 0.
"You can't prepare for that, when you walk in and there are 13,000 people there. You just look up and everybody is looking at you — it was crazy," said Dabritz of her Huntsman Center debut.
It would have been a freshman event sweep if not for senior Kyndal Robarts' win on the beam with a 9.9. Freshman Kailah Delaney earned the vault win with a 9.95. Vault was Utah's highest score of the night at 49.4.
Senior Stephanie McAllister was the all-around winner. McAllister was neck and neck with Robarts, who competed in bars for the first time since 2010, heading into the final event. McAllister wrapped up the floor for the Utes with a 9.9, while Robarts fell on her first pass. The floor score was McAllister's high of the night.
"She (Stephanie) really blossomed, gained a lot of confidence and has really picked up where she left off last year, and is even better," said Marsden about McAllister, who was Utah's best all-arounder last year after Robarts went down with a knee injury.
Up next for the Utes is a bye week, which Marsden said will be utilized to work on the little things they missed Friday. The Utes are back in action Jan. 27 as they host BYU.
Meanwhile, Utah State travels to Texas Woman's for a quad meet next week. Aggies coach Jeff Richards said he was happy with his team's performance and knows the potential for good things is there if they can get healthy. Sarah Landes led Utah State with a 38.825 all-around score. Landes posted a 9.825 on the bars for her high score of the night.
"It was a great meet, we're really proud of the girls," said Richards.
"Last week we had an intra-squad meet that was a little bit rough, it's been a great learning experience. The girls really came in and really settled themselves down, they stayed together as a team. Everything we've been working on and talking about all preseason, they just really brought together tonight. There are a few things we still need to work on and can improve on, but this was a really great start for us and we're really excited about it."
Utah 197.400, USU 191.925
All-around: 1. McAllister (Utah) 39.450; 2. Lothrop (Utah) 39.300; 3. Landes (USU) 38.825; 4. Robarts (Utah) 38.725; 5. Montoya (USU) 38.000
Vault: 1. Delaney (Utah) 9.925; 2. Robarts (Utah) 9.900; 3. Wilson (Utah) 9.875, Dabritz (Utah) 9.875; 5. McAllister (Utah) 9.825; 6. Lothrop (Utah) 9.800.
Bars: 1. Dabritz (Utah) 9.950; 2. Lothrop (Utah) 9.900; 3. McAllister (Utah) 9.875; 4. Landes (USU) 9.825, Robarts (Utah) 9.825, Lopez (Utah) 9.825
Beam: 1. Robarts (Utah) 9.900; 2. McAllister (Utah) 9.850, Lofgren (Utah) 9.850, Beers (Utah) 9.850; 5. Lopez (Utah) 9.825; 6. Lothrop (Utah) 9.800
Floor: 1. Dabritz (Utah) 9.975; 2. McAllister (Utah) 9.900; 3. Tutka (Utah) 9.875; 4. Damianova (Utah) 9.800, Lothrop (Utah) 9.800; 6. Montoya (USU) 9.725