No controversy after all (Gym)

The stage was set. A turgid history between two legendary coaches, some questionably inconsistent scoring and a meet between two gymnastics superpowers that ended with a difference of .025 when all was said and done.

All that equals a firestorm of judge bashing by the losing coach after the meet right? Not so fast?

“I’m notorious for willingly getting into that but I can’t be unhappy about anything tonight,” said Ute coach Greg Marsden after the narrow defeat to Georgia. “It was exactly what was advertised and what we had hoped for. I’m very impressed with the job Georgia did and very pleased with the effort my athletes showed.”

The restraint Marsden showed after the meet was a different tune from the normally candid coach. Following last year’s meet between the two at Georgia, Marsden made allusions to favoritism by the judges based on whose home arena it was. The two schools didn’t even face each other in a regular-season meet from 1991 to 2005, thanks to Marsden and Gymdog coach Suzanne Yoculan feuding over scoring.

But even though Monday night’s result was heartbreakingly close and the boos from the 13,809 in attendance showed that the fans and the judges were far from agreement, Marsden preferred to look forward rather than at the close result.

“What I hope my team takes from this is a feeling that they’re right there,” Marsden said. “That it’s possible, but at the same time enough discontent with the outcome tonight that they’re willing to make a final push in the last six weeks of the season.”

Marsden pointed to the vault as the reason why the Gymdogs were able to pull out the victory. The Utes scored a 49.350 as a team on the discipline, but Georgia performed clean vaults en route to a team score of 49.500. Seeing as though the event has traditionally been a strong point for the Utes, falling behind on it put compounded pressure on the team to succeed in later events.

“As I look at the scoresheet, the real difference tonight is sticking vault,” Marsden said. “Every one of their vaults, at least the ones I saw, they all stuck. In the other three events the difference was marginal but the one event that sticks out to me is 49.350 for us and 49.500 for them. We did nice vaults, we just didn’t nail the landings.”

While everyone had expected the next angry chapter in Marsden vs. Yoculan, what transpired was just an epic meet between two of the favorites for the national title. And the Ute coach is fine leaving it that way.

“There’s just not a lot of trash to talk,” Marsden said. “I’m sure they felt like some scores weren’t perfect and we might have thought that way too, but that’s just gymnastics. I’ve got no complaints.”