Gymnastics: Just like in the movies

By By Jon Gilbert and By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

You can’t make endings like this up.

It might be a cliche, but let it be used one more time.The Utah gymnastics team defeated BYU 197.100-193.850 on Senior Night in the Huntsman Center Friday.

For Utah’s three seniors, the night played out much like a movie script.

Ashley Postell scored a 10.0 on her beam routine, an event she is the defending National Champion. She achieved perfect scores on the beam twice in her freshman year in 2005 and broke the dry spell Friday.

Jessica Duke didn’t even know if she would compete due to back pain that started the previous Friday. She did not train all week to let her body rest and performed a season-high 9.85 on the uneven bars.

“Both Jess and I were frightened to death that she wouldn’t be able to go tonight,” head coach Greg Marsden said.

Katie Kivisto, who nearly walked away from the team two years ago partly because she was over 2,000 miles away from her home in Boca Raton, Fla., enjoyed the company of her parents, sister and boyfriend. She also competed the biggest floor routine in terms of difficulty that she has done at Utah, said Marsden.

What’s more, the entire spectacle was witnessed by the largest ground ever to watch a collegiate gymnastics meet. Although some seats were empty, the Huntsman Center still oversold capacity. The final attendance was 15,447.

The only thing missing from the movie script was drama.Utah took an early 1.75 lead on vault, even though Daria Bijak had a scary fall. She appeared injured at first but walked away and completed the meet. A team trainer said that she hyper-extended her knee.

“It really scared me because she’s had problems with her knees,” Marsden said.

Utah pulled away from the Cougars by posting a season high on bars (49.75) and beam (49.450). BYU fell at least once on every event except for floor.

Utah suffered Bijak’s fall and a fall by Kristina Baskett on floor because she touched the mat with her hands. But Utah didn’t have to count either mishap and Utah completed the regular season without counting a fall for the first time in school history.

From last year, “that’s a 180 (degree) turnaround,” said Kivisto.Although a pre-match ceremony brought several gymnasts to tears, the emotions weren’t heavy all night.

“I’m glad I got to do my routine on the second event so I could just relax and have fun,” Duke said.

Postell won the all-around competition with a score of 39.725. She reverted to an old floor routine and changed her music on the beam. She wasn’t sure that she deserved a 10.0. She said that she “smoothed” through a couple mistakes. After the meet, she wore a t-shirt that read “smooth operator,” which stood as an ironic testament to how the judges viewed her performance.

“Whatever the judges gave me I’m on their side,” Postell said. “This time.”

Postell won the vault, beam and floor competitions. Along with the all-around win, the four victories tied her with Theresa Kulikowski for the school record for career wins at 112.

“I didn’t know, but it’s cool,” Postell said of tying the record. “I’m not really focused on that right now.”

Utah can finally turn its focus on postseason competition with the conclusion of Friday’s meet. Marsden expects to compete at Minnesota for regionals-the official destination will be announced Monday-and is happy with where his team is.

“Compositionally we’ve done everything we’ve set out to do,” he said. From now until the beginning of regionals on April 12, the Utes will be concerned with cleaning up routines and fine-tuning their landings.

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Maegan Burr

Associate head coach Megan Marsden embraces senior Katie Kavisto after her final routine floor routine in the Huntsman Center.

Tyler Cobb

Fans celebrate Ashley Postell’s perfect score on beam during Senior Night.