SEATTLE (ABC 4 Sports) - The #6-ranked Ute gymnasts dug themselves out of a huge hole after botching their first event, but only enough to finish in a tie with #23 Washington 195.975-195.975. The Utes, who have never lost to the Huskies in 46 meetings, have now tied them twice. Reminiscent of 2001, when the final Husky gymnast needed a 10.0 on floor to tie the meet and got it, UW’s Aliza Vaccher needed a 9.925 this time around for the tie. She got it.
Utah coach Greg Marsden expressed concern over another poor start on the bars on the road. “We just can’t start meets like that (Utah counted a 9.30 after a fall and a costly balk). That’s two out of three road meets we’ve done that. For being halfway through the season, we shouldn’t be making these kinds of mistakes.”
The balk on bars by Kassandra Lopez was one of the stranger mistakes. Tory Wilson had already fallen off the bars, leaving the Utes no room for error, when Lopez ran up, bounced on the board and turned back. She never touched the bars, but to avoid a half point deduction, she needed to avoid the board, which is considered a part of the apparatus, according to Marsden.
“I don’t think Kass knew she couldn’t jump on the board,” said Marsden. “That was a coaching mistake. I don’t think we’ve ever told the (gymnasts) that the bar routine starts when they touch the board.”
Lopez did a fine job once she took to the bars and would have scored at least a 9.80 had she not been docked for the false start. Georgia Dabritz won the event with a 9.825, but the damage was done and Utah trailed by a hefty .650 margin (49.075-48.425) after one event.
“We weren’t very good tonight,” said Marsden. “You can’t give away the first event of the night. We did come back and make a meet of it, but it just wasn’t enough.”
The Utes made up all that ground in round two by scoring a 49.325 on vault to UW’s 48.675 on bars. Wilson, the nation’s top-ranked vaulter, stayed undefeated on her specialty, winning her sixth-straight title with a 9.95. She popped the big score right after Georgia Dabritz landed a 9.925.
Utah took its first of the night on the floor—barely—and would enter the final event leading by a whisker, 146.950-146.875. Becky Tutka scored a 9.90 on the floor and Nansy Damianova a 9.875 in a 49.20 team set, but the Huskies performed nearly as well on the beam, scoring a 49.125.
It was toe-to-toe from then to the finish with the Utes performing well under pressure on the beam, but not well enough to put away the Huskies.
“It was good that we showed we could go to that event (beam) in a pressure situation, but we need to do better there, too,” said Marsden. “We weren’t aggressive enough on some routines.”
Case in point was, Dabritz, who scored a 9.60 after missing a connection. Wilson, on the other hand, attacked the beam and won the event with a career-high 9.875, giving her two event titles on the night. “I’ll give Tory some slack,” said Marsden, referring to her fall on bars and the way she bounced back (Wilson scored a 9.80 on floor). Her bar routine is brand new and she did a really good job the rest of the way.”