Nicolle Ford won the bars with a 9.95.
March 16, 2007
CORVALLIS, Ore. -
It may not have been the breakout meet Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden was looking for, but a season-high 196.675 score was enough for the Utes to gain a key victory over No. 10 Oregon State (196.600). Also in the meet were Washington (193.625) and Seattle-Pacific (189.750).
On fire for the first two events, Utah finished strong on the third to take a 0.675 lead over the Beavers heading into the balance beam. Utah's 147.900 three-event score tied its best of the season--gained just last week against No. 1 Florida. But unlike a week ago, when Utah derailed on its last event, the Utes managed to do just enough to win before a partisan crowd of 4,116 in Gill Coliseum.
"I know I keep saying this, but we're getting better. We're just not quite there yet," said Marsden after watching his Utes survive a fall and a near fall to eke out a victory over the fast-finishing Beavers. "I'm pleased that we're battling and showing more heart. I'm not sure we can do any better on the floor exercise than we did tonight and that was also our best vault of the year. We started a little slowly on bars, but finished strong. I think we were just trying too hard on beam, but we didn't complete disintegrate like last week on our last event (floor)."
It was freshman Sarah Shire's 9.60 beam routine that saved the Utes in the end. Kristina Baskett had taken nasty spill as the first competitor on beam. Nina Kim followed with a season-best 9.85 and Daria Bijak contributed a 9.70. What Shire did to play the hero was simply to stay on the beam. Seemingly headed for the ground, she managed to right herself and finished her routine cleanly. When Nicolle Ford (9.775) and Ashley Postell (9.85) were safely down, the Utes escaped with a win.
Utah came out firing on all cylinders to start the meet, showing none of the missteps on the floor that cost it the meet the week before against No. 1 Florida. The big tumbling that the Utes have had trouble controlling at times, was tight and clean tonight, and they were rewarded with a season-tying 49.225. Daria Bijak (9.85) and Stephanie Neff (9.80) both tied career highs on a night when all of the Utes were on. Baskett's 9.90 led the way.
With vault came another season-tying score - this time a 49.425 - to give Utah a 98.650-98.050 lead over Oregon State at the midpoint. For the first time all season, all six Utes stuck their landings without a step. Baskett flirted with perfection and received a 9.95 to tie her season-best. Also getting season-high scores were Annie DiLuzio - a 9.90 on a monster vault - and Sarah Shire at 9.875.
Utah lost a little steam early in the third rotation, but finished strong to run its three-event total to a 147.900. Bijak mixed a 9.775 between 9.725 scores by Kim and Duke. Then Utah's Big Three lit it up, with Postell pulling off a 9.875 despite altering her routine midway through, Baskett cruising to a 9.90 and Nicolle Ford making her first appearance of the night memorable with a season-best 9.95.