On the road again

The top-ranked U gymnastics team will need a big performance Friday night to keep its No. 1-ranking.

Up to this point, the rankings have been based on a team’s highest meet score. After Utah’s meet at No. 13 Oregon State on Friday, the rankings will change to a season average. This could be bad news for the Utes, who posted a 195.675 at Utah State last week.

The 197.675 Utah scored against UCLA in the opener is the highest score in the nation this season.

With the rankings system out of its control, the U is focused on Oregon State.

The Beavers defeated the Utes in Corvallis in 2003, and while they only posted a 192.875 in a home loss to UCLA last week, Ute coach Greg Marsden isn’t taking the trip lightly.

“Oregon State is a tough place to compete,” Marsden said. “They have a great following and a great tradition.”

The good news for the Utes is that health is becoming less of a major concern. After missing most of last week’s meet with the flu, freshman Ashley Postell will be back in the all-around.

Marsden sees Postell’s temporary absence as a good thing in the long run.

“We need to have some other people ready to compete,” Marsden said. “I think it was good for their psyche and confidence for (fill-ins) Katie (Kvisto) and Jessica (Duke) to compete.”

Sophomore all-arounder Rachel Tidd is still on the shelf with a bad back, and Marsden doesn’t plan to rush her back to the mat.

“When her back feels a little better, we let her try some things. When it doesn’t, we back off,” Marsden said. “I hope at some point it begins to get consistently better, but we’re not there right now.”

Even with Tidd’s absence, the Utes still plan to use four all-arounders on Friday. Postell, Annabeth Eberle, Kristen Riffanacht and last week’s all-around winner Nicolle Ford are slated for every event. Riffanacht posted a solid 38.875 in her first collegiate all-around at the USU meet.

After the surprisingly low score in Logan, Marsden has tried to keep the team on task. “We’re going to try to get back to a more directed, focused approach to our training,” Marsden said. “It wasn’t that we didn’t do any good things last Friday, I just didn’t feel that we went to the meet prepared to do a good job.”

Before last week’s loss, Oregon State kicked off their season with a win in the Cal State Fullerton invitational. The Beavers knocked off No. 18 Washington, Cal State Fullerton and Sacramento State with a score of 195.20.

In a stark contrast with the Utes, OSU has not employed an all-around competitor in a meet this season.

The Utes will return to the Huntsman Center Friday, Jan. 29 to take on No. 3 Michigan.

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