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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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Road spill

By Tony Pizza

If the Red Rocks’ meet against Georgia last Friday was a glass and their performance represented some form of liquid, there would be two ways to look at how the team filled the stemware.

Pessimists would look at the Utes’ lackluster performance in a 196.850-195.475 loss as half empty. They would point to the numerous miscues and falls that the Red Rocks suffered, including one from each of the Utes’ star trio of Nicolle Ford, Kristina Baskett and Ashley Postell. They would say that the Utes tried to include too many upgrades to their routines, resulting in a disaster on floor that officially crushed any hopes of the Red Rocks leaving Georgia with a win over the No. 2 team in the country.

But the Utes are not a pessimistic team, and there were too many reasons for the Utes to literally view their performance against Georgia as half full.

Even the Utes’ poor performance on floor could be viewed as a source of optimism.

Most of the U gymnasts in the floor lineup were unveiling new upgrades for their routines. Unfortunately, few routines went smoothly. Annie DiLuzio implemented an Arabian double front into her first pass and nailed it, but went out of bounds during a subsequent tumbling pass. Ford fell while doing the double layout she recently introduced into her first pass, and Postell completely left out a skill in her last tumbling pass to accentuate her worst floor performance of the season. With that being said, the Utes’ letdown on floor did not stop U head coach Greg Marsden from sticking to his guns that it was time for his team to start going bigger.

“Do I regret being so aggressive on the floor?” Marsden said. “Well, I’m looking at the big picture, and we need to get those upgrades in under competitive circumstances like these.”

This seems to echo what Marsden and the rest of the team have been saying all year. The regular season is a chance for the Utes to improve-and they aren’t going to get better, or have a chance to compete against the best teams come April, if they don’t have routine upgrades in place by then.

Another reason for optimism is the way the Utes responded on beam after the floor meltdown. The Red Rocks tied their best beam performance of the season (48.900) despite having a leadoff fall from their most consistent gymnast, Jessica Duke.

“We actually looked a bit better on the balance beam than we have lately,” Marsden said.

The Utes can also take solace in the fact that they were far from their best in the losing cause. Had they performed at their peak and still lost, that might be a better indicator of what is in store for the Utes at Nationals in April. But they were far from achieving the performance level they are capable of, while Georgia was very solid.

After basically dominating sub-teams following its opening win against UCLA, Utah finally lost its first event of the season on vault when it couldn’t match Georgia’s performance. The final three Gym Dogs all posted 9.9s or better. The edge also went to Georgia on bars and the difference came between that event’s co-national champions Courtney Kupets and Baskett. Kupets-a former Olympian bronze medalist on bars-scored a 9.95, which significantly bettered Baskett’s score of 9.225, which included a fall for the U sophomore.

After the second rotation, the Red Rocks were behind in the meet, but not out of contention until the uncharacteristic disintegration on floor.

“I still think we’re a good team. We just haven’t shown it in competition yet,” Marsden said. “If we had hit our floor, we would have been right in there.”

Perhaps the most important thing the Red Rocks can take away from Friday’s meet, despite the loss, is remembering that it’s still very early in the season.

The team doesn’t need to look any further than Georgia’s season two years ago for proof of how little a loss so early in the season matters. The Gym Dogs put an end to a four-meet losing streak against the Utes and didn’t lose another meet en route toward claiming their sixth national championship.

The Utes will have the chance to show how much they took away from the loss when they bring their new No. 5 ranking back home to take on Michigan Friday night at the Huntsman Center.

Notes: Kristina Baskett’s tie for first place on vault was the only victory the Utes claimed in Athens, Ga., after the Utes won 25 straight events to start the season?Utah posted just three 9.9s or better-its lowest output of the season. Georgia had three scores of 9.9 or better on vault alone and finished with eight 9.9s or higher in all.

Tyler Cobb

Annie DiLuzio fights to maintain her balance during the Red Rocks’ Feb. 9 victory over Utah State. Utah was defeated by Georgia on Friday, 196.85-195.475 in Athens.

Tyler Cobb

Beth Rizzo performs a floor routine during the Utes’ Feb. 9 victory over Utah State. The Utes faltered on the floor in their loss to Georgia on Friday in Athens, Ga.

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