Gymnastics: Red Rocks step up difficulty

By By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

The U gymnastics team is all about progression. That’s why it spent this week working on upgrades in its routines.

No.2 Utah hosts Minnesota tonight at the Huntsman Center. Minnesota is Utah’s first unranked opponent of the season and tonight serves as a prime opportunity for Utah to test out more difficult maneuvers.

Senior Ashley Postell plans to implement a double Arabian on the first pass of her floor routine, replacing her triple twist. She plans to eventually move the triple twist to her final pass..

The double Arabian doesn’t exactly add difficulty to Postell’s routine, but it adds variety.

“It’s something that at nationals might be used to help judges separate me from other people,” Postell said.

She’s been working on upgrades in her bars routine as well, but is focusing on her floor routine right now.

Annie DiLuzio is also dabbling with a double Arabian in her floor routine. Nina Kim has been working on improving her floor routine, which has head coach Greg Marsden planning to include her as an all-around performer tonight.

Kim hasn’t performed in the all-around competition yet this season and hasn’t since the 2006 NCAA Championships.

“She kind of lost focus last year and I think lost her love for the sport for a while,” Marsden said. “I think she’s recaptured that.”

Marsden attributes the change to Kim’s ability to straighten out some career goals that were distracting her.

Kim will most likely perform the all-around tonight, but it depends on her performance in warmups.

“If she feels she’s ready, she’ll do a good job,” Marsden said.

He doesn’t want to push her in when she’s not ready, as was evidenced last week when Kim turned down the opportunity to perform all four events.

With Kim competing in the all-around, Utah would feature three all-around performers including Postell and Kristina Baskett. Daria Bijak participated in all four events last week, but Marsden feels there is only a slight chance she will do so again tonight.

Kim’s improvement will cause the floor lineup to change. Beth Rizzo could also move back into the floor rotation after she nailed her exhibition routine last week. Rizzo did not compete in the Utes’ meet against ASU — a first this season. The bars lineup could also see some flexing.

“Everybody’s really been pretty good about it, that we’re going to play around with (the lineup) a bit,” Marsden said.

The team also doesn’t want to push too many upgrades into routines. Marsden said there is no reason to potentially lose a meet because the team is trying too many new, more difficult maneuvers. As the meet goes on, one or two upgrades will be implemented. How those pan out will determine how many upgrades get used.

Progression was slowed down this week when the heat at the Dumke Gymnastics Center went out Monday, making the team unable to practice. Tuesday, the situation was “tolerable,” Marsden said, so the team trained.

The team was still able to get work done and, depending on warmups, will implement some difficulty.

The meet begins at 7 p.m. MST and is the second annual Short People Appreciation Night. A cardboard cutout of 5-foot senior Katie Kivisto — Utah’s shortest gymnast — will be placed at each entrance. Any fan shorter than the cutout will receive free general admission.

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Aaron Schwendiman

The U gymnastics team prepares to host Minnesota tonight at the Huntsman Center.