All-around winner Nicolle Ford placed second on every individual event.
March 4, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY -
A high decibel crowd of 11,008 in the Huntsman Center spurred the No. 3 ranked Utah gymnasts to a key first-place finish in a meet that featured three of last year's NCAA Super Six finalists. Utah led from start to finish en route to its second-best score of the season--a 197.425 and beat No. 6 Florida (196.450), Stanford (196.025) and California (191.500). Utah, Florida and Stanford all met last April in the NCAA team finals.
With four teams competing at once, the arena had a championships-like atmosphere and every team had its bout with nerves. Utah's, while few in number, cropped up in rare places. Freshman Katie Kivisto fell on her uneven bars mount--her first fall on that apparatus. Sophomore Rachel Tidd, who had hit 24-24 routines entering the meet, fell onto the beam and was docked heavily.
Other than those miscues, the Utes put on quite a show--throwing in upgrades and shaking off the two potentially harmful mistakes with a flair. Leading the way was all-around winner Nicolle Ford, whose 39.625 tied her career high. Freshman Ashley Postell placed second with a 39.60--barely off her career-high of 39.625. Ford placed in the top two on every individual event apparatus, while Postell won the balance beam, scoring a 9.925.
All-arounders Tidd and Annabeth Eberle each ran into trouble on one event (Eberle stepped out of bounds on her new upgraded floor routine after over-rotating a pike double back), but were individual event winners. Tidd won her sixth uneven bars title of the season with a 9.925 and Eberle's magnificent vault earned her a season-best 9.975 and the title. Gritt Hofmann moved up a spot in the floor lineup to allow Eberle to try an upgrade and seemed to like the change in scenery--scoring a career-tying 9.975 to finish a Ute victory sweep.
Katie Kivisto's first fall of the year on the bars started the second event off poorly. But Jessica Duke, in just her second bar routine of the year, corrected Utah's course with a career-high 9.75, and the other four took it from there. Particularly good were Ford (9.90) and Tidd (9.925) in the last two spots. After two events, Utah remained in first with a 98.650 and Florida moved into second (98.250).
Other than Tidd's fall onto the beam, the Utes turned in another stellar performance on that apparatus. Ford finished second to Postell, scoring a 9.90 to Postell's 9.925. Florida made a run in the third rotation, getting a pair of 9.90 scores from the middle of its lineup, but its No. 5 and 6 performers misfired--scoring a 9.475 and a 9.075--to take the Gators out of contention.
The Utes mopped up on the floor, scoring a 49.525 for their best floor score since the season opener. Big scorers in addition to Hofmann were Ford (9.925), Tidd (9.90) and Postell (9.90).