Red Rocks flip-flop: Ute gymnasts prevail after ugly start

If its opener proves to be any indication, good fortune could be on the side of Utah gymnastics in 2006.

The No. 2 Ute squad persevered in Los Angeles on Saturday despite getting off to a horrific start against No. 3 UCLA (5-1). Sophomores Katie Kivisto and Ashley Postell both took costly falls on the uneven bars early in Saturday night’s action, and the Utes were forced to play catch-up throughout.

“It was obvious that our first two competitors were big-time nervous and the falls were very atypical of them,” Ute head coach Greg Marsden said.

“We did a good job on the other three events, and I was pleased that none of our mistakes after the opening falls were due to tentativeness or nerves.”

Freshman Nina Kim quickly righted the ship, however, scoring a 9.725 on her debut bar routine.

Sophomore Jessica Duke (9.80) and junior Nicolle Ford (9.875) also turned in solid performances for the Utes, who didn’t suffer another fall again.

Headed into the final rotation, the Utes had clawed back within .325, before a shocked Pauley Pavilion crowd saw the Bruins hand the meet right back to the Utes with three falls and a major break in their finishing floor exercises.

The Utes took advantage of the opportunity with a solid response on the beam to secure their third victory in their last four season openers (all coming against UCLA).

“We tried to take ourselves out of it on the first two routines, but I told the team I was very proud of how they responded,” Marsden said.

Kristina Baskett kicked off her collegiate career in impressive fashion, with standout performances on the bar (9.725), vault (9.80) and floor (9.825, tied for first with senior Gritt Hoffman). Baskett, a freshman from Normandy Park, Wash., also performed an exhibition beam routine, which received a 9.675.

Nicolle Ford turned in a 39.20 overall, good for second in the all-around.

The Utes will head to Seattle to face Washington on Friday before their first home meet against Nebraska on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.

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