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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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It’s the final countdown

By Tony Pizza

For the U gymnastics team, the wait for tonight’s meet against BYU may have seemed longer than the wait for any other meet this year. And not just because the Red Rocks are eager to hand their archrival its 21st consecutive loss to a U gymnastics team.

The Utes have bigger fish to fry, starting with their performance on floor. True to his word, head coach Greg Marsden made sure he gave his team the best possible chance to be prepared on floor during practice this week.

“As hard as (practice) has been and as tired as people are?I think it’s helped,” said senior Nicolle Ford. “As much as I hate to admit, I think that’s what we needed.”

Now the Red Rocks are just anxious to stop analyzing what they can do on floor and start proving what the team is capable of.

“We’re just going to compete,” Ford said. “There’s nothing left to say, there’s nothing left to do.”

To help give the Utes the best opportunity to score, Annie DiLuzio will be temporarily trading in the double Arabian from her first pass for a triple front until she gets her stamina back.

“I came in yesterday with Greg (Marsden) and worked out (on floor) and it went really well,” DiLuzio said. “It really boosted my confidence a lot, which was good. I needed that.”

Although floor has been the most pressing issue for the Red Rocks as of late, performing well on that event is just a quarter of their focus. The bigger goal for the U gymnastics team will be to establish some momentum in the last meet of the regular season, which the Utes hope to carry into the NCAA Regional. Putting together a full-meet effort — especially on the last event — should do just that.

The Utes have proven to be as good as anyone in the country through three events, but whether their final event is floor or beam, the Utes have struggled to bring their initial effort full circle.

The last time the Red Rocks topped the 49-point mark on the final event of a meet was on Feb. 2 at Utah State. Since then, the Utes have gone seven straight meets with a sub-49-point total in their final rotation.

To give his team a chance at coming into a meet as fresh as possible, Marsden decided to give them a break from training the day before a meet.

Ford said that Marsden got this idea when the team traveled to Corvallis, Ore. on March 16. The Utes used the Thursday before the meet as a travel day and Marsden found that his team was sharper than normal when meet time rolled around.

Another reason Marsden may have given his team a day off is because of how hard he worked his gymnasts in practice this week.

“He didn’t want us doing a ton (Thursday) because (practice) has been so hard,” Ford said. “I know a lot of people are sore — I’m sore.”

Ashley Postell was glad to see how hard the team worked in practice — particularly on floor — this week, but she still hinted that the Utes’ troubles on the mat don’t entirely have to do with the team’s physical preparation.

“I don’t know what it is about that last event?when we come to the last event we try too hard,” Postell said. “We’ve been ready to compete for a long time?we all just want to do it.”

Whatever the root of the team’s inability to string together a strong showing on all four events is, the Red Rocks have exactly one meet to figure out how to iron out their problems before it is too late.

Next Monday, the Utes will learn the site and opponents for the NCAA Regional, and that is hardly the place to start righting the ship.

Unfortunately, even a perfect score against BYU will not allow the Utes to rise above their current No. 6 national ranking, but is still good enough for a No. 1 seed at an NCAA Regional in mid-April.

But the Utes have some competition for the sixth spot in the national rankings. The Nebraska Cornhuskers are breathing down Utah’s neck, as they only trail the Utes by .01 points going into the last weekend of the regular season. If Nebraska were to register a score of 197.25 or higher in the Big 12 Championships this weekend, it would take over the No. 6 spot no matter how well the Utes do against BYU.

But more important than the score is the increased confidence the Red Rocks desperately need to find this weekend.

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