Red Rocks back after week off

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

It might seem like it was months ago that Utah hosted Michigan in the Huntsman Center and posted its highest score of the season8212;a 197.525.

In reality, it has been 14 days since the Red Rocks last took part in a competitive meet, but that streak comes to an end tonight when Utah welcomes the Arizona State Sun Devils into the Huntsman Center. Friday’s meet will mark the second leg of a three-meet home stand for the Red Rocks.

“We’ve been doing really good in practice,” said senior Kristina Baskett. “So we’re just excited to get out there and compete again, especially in front of our fans.”

Utah will try to recapture the magic of the Michigan meet, where for the first time all season the Red Rocks did not count a fall in competition or exhibition. Not only did Utah set a season high in the all-around, but also on the floor exercise (49.425).

“We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from coach Greg (Marsden),” Baskett said. “We feel good, I think he feels good.”

Its not often that a Marsden-coached team is in the situation of coming off a bye week.

This season marks only the second time in 20 years that the Red Rocks have had a bye week in their schedule. The last time it happened was last year when the Red Rocks had a break from Feb. 24, when they traveled to UCLA and won, to March 7 when they hosted then No. 7 Oregon State.

It wasn’t a pretty meet by any means for the Red Rocks, who as a team fell four times and stumbled to a 196.3. As far as how the Red Rocks will fare Friday, Marsden has a wait-and-see attitude.

“Practices have been good,” Marsden said. “But practices aren’t competition. Hopefully, we’ll be sharp (Friday), but only time will tell. If we are, that’s great, if we’re not, we just need to get back into rhythm.”

Marsden will have junior Daria Bijak in the all-around competition for the third time this year along with fellow junior Jamie Deetscreek and seniors Baskett and Nina Kim. Freshman Stephanie McAllister will be competing in all events, either to count or for exhibition, for the first time.

“She’ll definitely be leading us off on bars,” Marsden said. “On the other three events, most other years she would be in the lineup, but right now the upperclassmen are healthy and they’re doing a good job.”

Although there was no competition for the Red Rocks last week, the team did hold an inter-team competition in the Dumke Center. The pressure from onlooking teammates and coaches could be intense, but it is nothing compared to the energy inside the Hunstman Center.

“It helped us by just getting us in the right mindset,” Baskett said. “Obviously, there’s not as much pressure in the gym, but it was good practice.”

The important thing for Baskett and the Red Rocks might not be performing under pressure, but managing all the energy of the bye week.

“(Our energy) has been building for so long,” Baskett said. “Hopefully we will use it in the right way.”

The meet gets underway Friday at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. The meet is the annual Short People Appreciation Night, where a life-size cutout of the 5-foot-1-inch Baskett will be at every door. Anyone shorter then Kristina will gain free admission.

“We’ve done some really cool promotional stuff this year,” Baskett said. “It’s one of the things the fans and especially the little kids like. I know I would’ve liked something like that when I was little.”

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