Gymnastics: Red Rocks look for close meet at OSU

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On Friday, the No. 4 Red Rocks will be hoping for a fight.

So far this season, the Utah gymnastics team has easily taken down No. 8 UCLA, No. 17 Washington and No. 16 Stanford as well as everyone else, rolling to a perfect 9-0 record on the year.

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On Monday, Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden told his team that he felt they needed to experience a tight meet to get ready for the postseason. The team is hoping No. 12 Oregon State provides just that when the Utes head to Corvallis for a Friday night matchup against the Beavers.

— Chris Ayers

“I think this team is ready for that,” said Utah co-head coach Megan Marsden. “We thought going into last weekend that we were going to have a pretty good contest and then Stanford ended up not being at their best.”

If Oregon State is at its best, it will prove to be a formidable foe. The Beavers have posted a 197.250, and a score like that should put some pressure on the Red Rocks to hit their last set on balance beam.

“I’m expecting them [the Beavers] to be really good, and we are a team with a target on our back,” Megan Marsden said. “I think they will be gunning for us, and they will be home and comfortable. They are very tough to beat at home. We are going to have to finish on beam and win the meet.”

Though the Utes have not yet been in a close meet, they are not ignorant about what is happening across the country. They are well aware of what teams like Oklahoma and Florida are doing and know that eventually they will have to come through in the clutch.

“We need to be in some close contests so that in postseason, we have been in a meet where it’s been tight right down to the wire,” Megan Marsden said. “This team hasn’t quite felt that yet, because they have been so good.”

Utah posted a season-high 198.050 last week against Stanford and in that meet the Utes had all four of their freshmen — Kari Lee, Tiffani Lewis, Maddy Stover and Samantha Partyka — compete for scores. Those four especially haven’t felt the pressure of hitting a routine when a meet is on the line, but Megan Marsden is confident they will be just fine.

“We got some young people in the lineup in places, so we don’t know exactly how they will respond, but so far my bet is they will like it,” Megan Marsden said. “Our freshmen seem to be pretty competitive, so I don’t think that will bother them too much. I think they will respond well, I do think we have a group of girls that is ready for the next challenge.”

With a little luck, the Beavers will provide just that. Friday’s meet is set to begin at 8 p.m. MST.

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