Despite layoff, Red Rocks don?t miss a beat

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

It had been a full two weeks since the Red Rocks last performed, but
you couldn’t tell that from the way the U gymnastics team performed
Friday night.

The Red Rocks picked up right where they left off two weeks ago
against Michigan, scoring their second-highest team score of the
season, defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 197.350 to 194.350.
This is Utah’s second consecutive meet in which the team broke the
197.00 mark.

“It felt so good (to compete again),” said senior Kristina Baskett.
“Our favorite thing is to compete in front of our fans and we had such
a big crowd tonight. I really missed the atmosphere and the feeling.
It was just really fun.”

Baskett won her fifth all-around title of the season Friday night,
finishing with an all-around score of 39.575, despite stepping out of
bounds during her floor routine.

“My gymnastics is good right now,” Baskett said. “So I can focus all
my attention on the mental aspect.”

Baskett helped the Red Rocks set season records on the vault and beam
Friday, scoring a 49.525 and 49.450, respectively.

“(The meet) was good but not great,” said head coach Greg Marsden. “I
thought we had two great events, vault and beam was probably the best
we can do at those two events.”

But while the team excelled in the first and third events of the
night, the Red Rocks struggled a bit on the bars and floor. Utah
posted its fourth-lowest total of the year on the floor exercise
(49.250) and tied its second-lowest score of the year on the bars

“Bars wasn’t bad,” Marsden said. “But we missed a lot of handstands
tonight, which is uncharacteristic of this team. I don’t think it is
anything to worry about but it definitely wasn’t our best effort on
the event. On the floor, we tried some upgrades and for the most part
they were successful. Floor was good, but not great.”

After Utah finished up at the beam, it was announced that senior Nina
Kim was being pulled out of the lineup on floor in exchange for
freshman Stephanie McAlister, who was warming up an exhibition

“Nina has been a little off this week,” Marsden said. “After beam she
just didn’t feel like she had her legs tonight. I always encourage
the girls to make good decisions every night based on how they are
feeling and I think for the good of the team and herself, she took her
self out.”

On short notice, McAlister stepped up for the Red Rocks and delivered
in a huge way, tying her career high with a 9.850, the second-highest
score on the floor on the night for Utah, behind Baskett’s 9.90.

“They told me right before I did my exhibition on beam,” McAlister
said of when she caught word she’d be competing on floor. “I didn’t
know there was a problem with Nina so I didn’t expect it at all, but I
was really excited. I have been doing some exhibition on floor, so I
thought I was ready…I was glad I got the chance to compete.”

“Steph stepped in and did a great job,” Marsden said. “And that’s
what they’re there for; they train for that opportunity and that’s why
we need them.”

Utah will close out its 2009 home schedule Friday when it hosts
Florida on Senior Night.

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