Utah had a great night on the uneven bars vs. UCLA.
Jan. 12, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -
A big score at the midway point and just enough punch at the end allowed the No. 2-ranked Utah gymnastics team to slip past No. 5 UCLA 196.325-195.975 and start 2007 on a winning note. Two major scoring swings in the final two rotations made for a wild finish in the Huntsman Center, where 11,418 fans braved sub-zero temperatures, howling winds and drifting snow to see the Utes win their fourth-straight season opener against the Bruins.
Virtually deadlocked after the first rotation, Utah gained three tenths of a point in round two on a great bar set. But trouble struck on the next event--the balance beam--and the Utes found themselves trailing 147.250-147.175 going into their final rotation. Fortunately for Utah, the chill that settled in on the last half of its beam lineup stuck around for the Bruins and allowed the Utes to charge back into the lead, and the win, on the floor exercise.
All week long, Utah head coach Greg Marsden fretted about the readiness of the newcomers, but oddly, his veterans exhibited more first-meet stumbles. The exceptions were sophomore Kristina Baskett and junior Jessica Duke, who both posted career all-around highs. Baskett won the all-around with a 39.60 after posting a 9.90 on every event, while Duke scored a 39.00. On the newcomer side, freshman Annie DiLuzio lived up to her billing by scoring a 9.775 or better on all three events she competed, including a runner-up finish on the vault (9.85) on her very first college routine.
What happened to Utah on the balance beam was a scenario Marsden never envisioned. "I wasn't worried at all about our last three competitors (Nina Kim, Nicolle Ford and Ashley Postell)," said Marsden. "It was the first three that had me nervous." Instead, Duke started the set with a career-best 9.675, Baskett crushed her previous career high with a 9.90 and DiLuzio's first try went for a 9.775. Then the Utes began giving away their lead. Kim fell on her mount, Ford missed an element and then freelanced the rest of her routine, and Postell didn't hit her set cleanly.
Utah finished the night with victors on every individual apparatus as well. Baskett was a three-event champion for the Utes, winning the vault, beam and floor with identical 9.90 scores. Ford won the bars with the highest score of the evening, a 9.925.