No. 1 gymnastics team gets healthy

For the past few weeks, U gymnastics coach Greg Marsden has had to work around a lot of injuries, but this week should be different.

Last week Nicolle Ford, Rachel Tidd, Natalie Nicoloff and Gabriella Onodi were hurt, but three of the four competed in Friday’s meet against BYU.

Ford, who bruised her heel the week before in Minnesota, was not slated to participate in the all-around, but did anyway.

“[The heel] got a lot better over the week and by Tuesday of last week, she was doing everything,” Marsden said.

As for Tidd, her back was still sore, but she was well enough to compete and win the all-around against the Cougars. As far as Tidd’s back, Marsden is just being cautious with it.

“It’s pretty much the same, but it held up fairly well,” Marsden said. “[Her back] does get sore and we have to continue to limit her amount of reps in practice. If it begins to get tight, we back off. By the next day it is better. So far she has still improved even though she is not practicing as much.”

As for Nicoloff, who hasn’t competed the last couple of weeks due to a sprained elbow, Marsden thinks she could be ready to assume her usual role.

“Natalie was back doing at least beam routines, which is the place that she usually competes for us,” Marsden said.

Dealing with injuries may have been a positive for the Utes, since gymnasts like Katie Kivisto and Jessica Duke got in the mix, gained confidence and actually performed well.

“I actually feel good about Katie on three events right now and she is challenging people to be on the lineup,” Marsden said. “I would really feel great about her in the lineup on any or all of the events.”

Marsden also feels confident in Duke, especially on the vault.

“Jessica has vaulted really well for us the last couple of weeks,” Marsden said.

Although all the Utes that were hurt last week seem to be getting better, Kristen Riffanacht hurt her hamstring after falling off the beam during Friday’s meet.

But it wasn’t as bad as originally thought.

“I think she will be back pretty much doing everything Thursday and Friday, but she may not be very sharp because she has missed so much training,” Marsden said.

With all the competitors hurt, the gymnasts have still worked in a good amount of upgrades.

“I was pleasantly surprised that we got a lot more upgrades this last week than I expected,” Marsden said. “Gritt Hoffman upgraded and Katie also changed her first pass. Tidd upgraded her last pass and she actually did pretty well with that.”

As for how the team is doing now, Marsden is happy with the way the team is competing but still has several concerns.

“I feel really good but I would like to look more confident and get a little more aggressive on balance beam,” Marsden said. “I think those gymnasts who come after a person that falls have done a nice job, but they aren’t really aggressive. We need to get back and get aggressive. Also we need to stick more landings on all events.”

The Utes did not have practice Tuesday, but will be back in the gym for the rest of the week to prepare for their meet in Lincoln against Nebraska.

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Gymnastics Top 25

1. Utah 196.350 2. Michigan 196.250 3. L.S.U. 196.158 4. Florida 195.958 5. Alabama 195.921 6. Nebraska 195.646 7. Georgia 195.604 8. Iowa State 195.450 9. Oklahoma 195.437 9. UCLA 195.437 11. Arkansas 194.979 11. Brigham Young 194.979 13. Denver 194.896 14. Penn State 194.700 15. Southern Utah 194.475 16. Oregon State 194.375 17. Central Michigan 194.350 18. Arizona 194.271 19. Auburn 194.262 20. Kentucky 194.187 21. Arizona State 194.037 22. Ohio State 194.000 23. Washington 193.862 24. Minnesota 193.792 25. Michigan State 193.687