Ready for the road: No. 4 Ute gymnasts look for redemption at No. 8 Georgia today

The No. 4 U gymnastics team is no longer the top-ranked team in the nation. They are coming off a loss to Nebraska and are back on the road, as they head to Athens to take on the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

The Utes left for Georgia Thursday, so they only had two days to train.

“We usually don’t have practice Wednesday, so our classes run through the regular time,” U senior gymnast Annabeth Eberle said. “So [Wednesday] Greg just told us to come in whenever we can after two o’clock.”

The Utes will probably not be able to upgrade their routines, but Eberle isn’t worried about the lack of training.

“In practice we work on our routines, but we are pretty much automatic on them so a short week isn’t a big deal,” Eberle said.

Marsden sees another problem with the stress of a short week and it doesn’t involve athletics.

“This trip is a quick turnaround after our trip to Nebraska,” Marsden said. “More than anything, the challenge has to do with the fact that we’re getting toward the middle of the school term and the pressure to do well in class is increasing.”

That pressure may take away their focus from gymnastics, but the loss to Nebraska may have been good for the team.

“Losing is never fun, but it took a lot of pressure off of us,” Eberle said.

The Utes are no longer the top-ranked team in the nation and don’t have to deal with that stress. They also don’t have to worry about finishing the year undefeated since they now have a loss.

They do have to worry about going into Georgia against a team that was the runner up in the NCAA championships last season.

“They’re a team that’s always a contender at the end of the year, they have a great tradition and following, and the meet atmosphere should be electric,” Marsden said.

Utah is pretty healthy going into the weekend except for Gritt Hofmann, who hurt her wrist last week.

She could return on the floor this week, while Kristen Riffanacht is probable for the meet.

Other than that, the Red Rocks are doing fine.

“I think we are pretty healthy, just dealing the regular gymnastics stuff,” Eberle said.

The main problem the Utes had last week was dealing with early falls, which led to conservative routines by the rest of the gymnasts in order to not count the original fall.

“It is definitely in your mind,” Eberle said.

Marsden has been harping on the lack of aggressiveness for a couple weeks and wants the team to go out compete to win.

“We still need to compete with more confidence,” Marsden said. “We need to compete to win rather than not to lose.

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