Gymnastics welcomes in-state foes tonight

The undefeated No. 2 Ute gymnastics team (3-0) will host Utah State (2-5) and Southern Utah (0-1) today at the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m.

Head coach Greg Marsden said he hopes his team can continue its positive trend of late with a solid showing against his in-state foes at the Ken Garff Invitational.

“We’re where we need to be at this time, improving every week,” Marsden said. “We have some very specific goals for this meet.”

The Utes moved up a spot to No. 2 after last Friday’s strong performance against No. 6 Nebraska and trail only Georgia in the rankings. They also rank No. 2 on the vault (49.142) and floor (48.983) and No. 3 on the beam (48.625).

Still, Marsden is looking to climb even further up the standings.

“While I was very pleased with our consistency, hitting 23 of 24 competitive routines and 6-for-6 in exhibition routines, our execution still needs work,” Marsden explained. “We gave away far too many deductions for missed handstands on bars and steps on landings on all four events.”

Individually, Kristina Baskett ranks No. 3 in the all-around (39.325) followed closely by Nicolle Ford at No. 5 (39.237). Ford is recovering from a sore wrist, but she hopes to compete on both the vault and the floor this weekend. “I should be able to go,” Ford said before Tuesday’s practice session.

If she misses out on action, freshman Nina Kim will take her place on the floor exercise, while senior Gabriella Onodi will fill in on the vault.

Sophomore Ashley Postell should join Baskett and Ford in all-around contention tonight, as she continues to add more elements to her routine after missing six weeks of training with a torn elbow ligament.

“I’ll be adding some upgrades this week,” Postell said. “My elbow feels better, and the bars have felt good, so I won’t have to water down my routines as much.”

The Utes are 80-3 against in-state “rivals” Utah State. Since records don’t count for anything in collegiate gymnastics rankings, Marsden hopes his squad will give its best effort Friday night, even if it probably won’t be needed for the win.

“Utah State had a very close meet with BYU last weekend and appears to be improving each week,” Marsden said. “I know both Utah State and Southern Utah would love to catch us a little down after last week’s home opener. We need to stay focused and on-task.”

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