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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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Red Rocks husked on the road

By Tony Pizza

If some evil supreme being had conjured up all the ways the U gymnastics team’s chances could be ruined this weekend at Nebraska, that list would have had a lot of check marks once the Utes took the floor Sunday afternoon.

Even so, the Red Rocks gave the Cornhuskers all they could handle-in a building the Utes have won in just once before-only to fall to Nebraska in the end, 196.675-196.100, in Lincoln, Neb.

Even though the Utes were competing without senior captain Nicolle Ford and freshman sensation Annie DiLuzio for the entire meet and without Kristina Baskett for half the meet, the Utes did not lose because of missing personnel. This week, the little things hurt the Utes, especially the little steps the majority of the U gymnasts made after otherwise solid performances.

“I don’t think we stuck one landing today,” said head coach Greg Marsden. “We gave away our chances.”

Despite accumulating several deductions for missed landings and the their worst vault performance of the season, the Red Rocks not only hung with the No. 7 Cornhuskers, but they actually led halfway through the meet.

The Utes looked poised to put their troubled week behind them with a hot start on bars. And they got that start from a new face in the lineup.

Stephanie Neff saw action on bars for the first time this season, but she hardly showed it. The Ute freshman started the Utes off with a solid 9.750 and her teammates took it from there.

Jessica Duke matched her season high of 9.875 before Ashley Postell matched that score and Baskett nailed her routine for a 9.925 from the clean-up spot.

From there, the Utes ran into problems, particularly on landings.

The Utes, who have established themselves as a strong vaulting squad this season, turned in their worst outing thus far with a 48.95 score where nobody could seem to land without a step or two.

The Utes did get another good performance out of Baskett, which was surprising considering it was unclear whether she would even be available after a flu bug and foot injury kept her out of practice last week.

“It was a pleasant surprise to see (Baskett) feeling better,” Marsden said. “Vault and bars were the appropriate thing for her. We thought she could be gassed at the end of floor.”

Despite the hiccups on vault, the Utes still held a slight .025-point advantage at the halfway point. But the Red Rock lead proved not large enough. Without two if its top All-Around gymnasts, the Utes simply could not compete with the 9.9s Emily Parsons and Kylie Stone were turning in for Nebraska.

Still, given the fact that the Utes sent out freshmen to occupy more than half of the final two rotation lineup spots, the Red Rocks made great strides to only be trailing by fewer than 0.1 points going into the final rotation.

The Utes just did not have enough firepower to overcome what the Cornhuskers were doing on floor and beam. Emily Parsons turned in scores of 9.925 and 9.950 on floor and beam, respectively, to not only lead Nebraska to a win, but earn an All-Around victory as well.

“Nebraska competes with confidence-that’s very clear,” Marsden said. “They’re a very technical team, their routines have difficulty?this is a hard place to compete for us.”

Given all the adversity building up to the meet, Marsden still found a lot of reason for optimism. His freshmen-especially Neff and Jamie Deetscreek-have been earning the chance to compete, but it’s hard to put them in the lineup over people like Ford and DiLuzio.

Marsden also relished the fact that his team is still making progress. This week the Utes went through a whole meet without having to count one fall on their scorecard. In fact, the only fall of the meet came from Postell, who at the time was still tied for first in the All-Around.

“I’m proud of the effort. We hung in there and we battled,” Marsden said. “I’m looking forward to getting to full strength. We need to have the meet we had last week (against Michigan) paired with the one we had this week.”

The Utes will likely need just that if they hope to prevent their first losing streak of the season when they play host to the No. 1 Florida Gators on Friday at the Huntsman Center.

Mike Terry

Ashley Postell pauses between events during the Utes’ meet with Michigan on Feb. 23 in the Huntsman Center. Utah lost to Nebraska by .575 yesterday in Lincoln.

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