Gael Mackie and Daria Bijak were all smiles before their meet with UCLA, but not so much after a Ute loss.
Jan. 9, 2010
LOS ANGELES - The No. 2 ranked Utah gymnastics team stumbled mightily in its season opener, falling to No. 5 UCLA 196.600-195.125 before a crowd of 5,128 in Pauley Pavilion. Not since 2003 had the Utes lost a season-opener, when they fell to the Bruins in Salt Lake City.
Saturday's loss snapped a 10-meet Ute win streak against UCLA--a streak that included a tie-breaker victory over the Bruins in the preliminary round of last April's NCAA Championships. This time around was not nearly so close.
"UCLA looked awfully good," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden. "They are typically a slow-starting team, but today we looked like UCLA usually does (in the early season). I take my hat off to UCLA. They were a much better team tonight and they are definitely a team on a mission. This was a disappointing start for us and hopefully it is a wakeup call."
Marsden shouldered the blame for the lowest score by a Utah team since the 2006 season opener (ironically a 194.875-193.850 Ute win over UCLA in Los Angeles). "We made mental mistakes and didn't look sharp right from the start. We did not look well prepared, and ultimately, I am responsible for that."
Two Utes who fared well were junior Kyndal Robarts and senior Annie DiLuzio. Robarts, competing in the all-around for the first time of her career, placed third with a 39.150. She was Utah's high scorer on vault (9.85) and beam (9.85)--placing third on both of those as well. DiLuzio hit her three events cleanly and recorded Utah's highest score of the night--a 9.875 on floor.
While the Utes did not count a fall, they had one on every event. In the opening rotation on the uneven bars, Stephanie McAllister dropped to one knee on her dismount, causing the Utes to ultimately count a 9.675 from Cortni Beers. Jamie Deetscreek and Daria Bijak finished strong with 9.85s, but Utah fell behind by nearly a half a point (49.275-48.850). As it turned out, it was as close as the Utes would get.
The Utes improved in the second half, but the damage was done. Led by a 9.875 by DiLuzio and a 9.85 by Bijak, the Utes posted their best score of the night in round three--a 48.900 on the floor. UCLA put up the same score on the beam to keep the Utes at bay.
The Utes showed some spark in their finale on the balance beam, where they scored a 48.775 and Robarts received a 9.85 as the anchor. The fall on this rotation came from a strange source. Deetscreek, who fell just once all last season and set the school record for most consecutive hit routines (64), toppled off the beam in the center of the lineup.
Said co-head coach Megan Marsden, who oversees the beam, "I was pleased with beam for a first-meet effort. We had some gymnasts with anxiety issues in the lineup and they did pretty well. That fall by Jamie was unusual and was our big mistake."
Utah hosts Iowa State next Friday in its home opener. The meet starts at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.