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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Going Postell

By Tony Pizza

It was only a matter of time before the Utes’ best All-Arounder claimed her first All-Around victory of the young 2007 gymnastics season. That time finally came for Ashley Postell this weekend in Minnesota.

Postell led the way as the Red Rocks went into Minneapolis for their first road meet of the season and came home with a 195.875-194.125 win over the Golden Gophers, improving to 3-0.

Postell returned to the form that led her to a runner-up finish for the All-Around National Championship in 2006.

The junior All-American swept first-place finishes in all four events-claiming three sole victories, while sharing her victory on bars with teammate Kristina Baskett-en route to meet best 39.55 in the All-Around. She also set new season-highs on bars and beam with scores of 9.825 and 9.925 respectively, while tying her season best of 9.9 on floor.

While Postell’s MVP performance led the Utes to victory, the Red Rocks could not have pulled off the road win without the newest faces on the team pitching in.

Until Saturday, Annie DiLuzio had been the only freshman to contribute to the Utes’ early success. Two more freshmen made their first contributions against Minnesota and a third proved that she deserves a shot to help in the future.

Daria Bijak did her first routine for score against the Golden Gophers, and she answered the challenge by scoring a 9.725 on the uneven bars.

Redshirt Beth Rizzo seemed to have earned a shot on the Utes’ floor lineup in an upcoming meet when she pounded out a 9.775 in a floor exhibition for the Utes.

“My freshman exhibition performers made me look like an idiot tonight, which is great,” head coach Greg Marsden said with a laugh. “Beth Rizzo showed she needs to be in the floor lineup with her exhibition routine.”

The biggest surprise came from a freshman that was only scheduled to appear in exhibition for the Red Rocks.

On the Utes’ second rotation of the meet, Sarah Shire stuck her exhibition vault and earned a score of 9.875-which would have been good enough for second place had the score counted.

Shire’s next scheduled appearance was beam, which was originally scheduled to be an exhibition as well. But when the Utes made their final rotation to beam, Marsden called on the 4-foot, 11-inch freshman to do a beam routine that would count instead.

Shire responded on the most difficult event in women’s gymnastics with a 9.8, which was the fourth-best score on the slender apparatus for the night.

The reason Shire had the chance to shine was because of the struggles team captain Nicolle Ford experienced all night.

Ford came into the meet fresh off a weeklong bout with a severe head cold that forced her to miss most of last week’s practices. Ford admitted before leaving for Minnesota that she was not feeling 100 percent, and when it came time to compete, it was obvious her illness was getting the best of her.

Ford struggled through her opening routine on bars as she stalled on the top bar and then proceeded to stumble on the dismount.

Although Ford scored a 9.85 on vault, she had her second fall of the night on floor. Instead of making Ford suffer through a beam routine on the Utes’ final rotation of the meet, Marsden called on Shire, and she couldn’t have answered the call any better.

“I’ve really been tough on the freshmen-challenging them in the gym and in public,” Marsden said. “I want to say how proud I am of them now that they stepped up and contributed in a meet.”

Sophomore Kristina Baskett also responded to her fall on the balance beam last week against Washington by scoring a 9.875-which was just .025 points off from tying her career-best.

Baskett’s All-Around score of 39.325 was good enough for a second-place finish behind Postell, and it should also keep her near the top of the National Rankings in the All-Around.

The Red Rocks will return home for a four-team meet as they will play host to Arkansas, Southern Utah and nationally ranked BYU at the Huntsman Center Friday night.

Notes: Florida and Georgia-who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation respectively-competed to a 197.250 tie Saturday night. This will likely keep the Red Rocks firmly ranked No. 3 when the new polls come out this week?The Utes are steadily improving on beam, which has proved to be their weakest event this year. The Red Rocks combined for a score of 48.9, which is a season best.

Lennie Mahler

Kristina Baskett pulls off a back handspring in her beam routine during last Friday’s meet against Washington at the Huntsman Center.

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