Edged out: Red Rocks lose for first time this season

The lack of aggressiveness that U gymnastics coach Greg Marsden was worried about before the meet against Nebraska may have been the factor that didn’t allow the Red Rocks to pull the meet out in Lincoln, as the Utes earned their first loss of the season in an incredibly tight match against No. 6 Nebraska 196.650-196.600.

“If we’re going to win a meet like this, we can’t go into it trying not to lose,” Marsden said. “We didn’t go out relaxed and aggressive and to try to win the meet. I thought we came out a little flat and then we gave away too many tenths. We knew Nebraska was a team that is getting better each week and is extremely good on its home floor. We knew they would be ready for us.”

Utah had major errors on three of the four events, which gave the team little margin for error.

On the bar, which was the leadoff event for the Utes, Kristen Riffanacht was the second competitor for the Utes and had a poor performance scoring a 9.275.

If the Utes had another poor performance, they would have had to count the fall. The highest score to follow Riffanacht was a 9.85 by Nicolle Ford.

The Huskers had more than a tenth of a point lead on the Utes after the first event, as they had solid scores all around on the vault.

The Red Rocks cut into the lead during the vault.

After a below-average vault by Gabriella Onodi, which fetched a 9.675 from the judges, and a tough landing by Ford, which was scored a 9.550, the Utes picked it up.

Freshman sensation Ashely Postell tied for the victory in the event with a 9.925, while senior leader Annabeth Eberle came through with a 9.90.

The Huskers started off the beam on the wrong foot, as Stephanie Carter only scored a 9.675, but after a 9.8 score by Michele Zabawa, the Huskers went on a tear. Emily Parsons, Jamie Saas and Richelle Simpson all scored 9.9’s, and it seemed the Utes would not be able to catch up, but they caught a break.

Nebraska’s final beam competitor, Krisi Esposito, took a fall and scored a 9.2, which meant the Huskers would have to count Carter’s 9.675.

While Nebraska was on beam, the Utes were on the floor. Freshman Katie Kivisto had a tough routine, as she landed short on her last pass and fell. Kivisto scored a 9.175 and was the leadoff competitor, which made the other gymnasts a little tight. Onodi followed Kivisto with a 9.75 and Ford added a 9.8. The last three routines for the Utes were all good, as Rachel Tidd scored a 9.875, Postell scored a 9.9 and Eberle finished the event with a 9.85.

Going into the final event, the Huskers maintained their five hundredths of a point lead over the Utes.

The Utes just didn’t have a good enough beam routine to overcome the Husker lead. Onodi fell off the beam and scored a 9.3 and the scores that followed were good, but not great, besides Postell. Postell won the event with a 9.95, but while the Utes were trying to stay on the beam, the Huskers were icing the event with their last two floor routines.

Parsons and Simpson scored a 9.925 and a 9.9 respectively, as the Huskers took the meet and handed the Utes their first loss of the season.

The falls and deductions clearly had a major effect on the Utes, but all the people who had falls or major deductions were replacements for injured Ute gymnasts. Gritt Hofmann did not compete, Nicoloff was out and Dominique D’Oliveira was pulled right before the meet since she almost flew off the bars a few times during the warm-ups. Chalk from the men’s competition was left on the bars and the apparatus was disassembled and then put together again.

“Using substitutes is tough, but that’s gymnastics,” Marsden said. “That’s why you get to drop a score. The problem came when some of the [Utes] fell early and the rest of the lineup tightened up. I want to see the others attack their routines when that happens.”

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