Gritt Hofmann tied for second on beam in her final home meet.
March 24, 2006
SALT LAKE CITY -
The Utah gymnastics team picked up two victories in its final home meet of the season, even if only one counts on the scoreboard--its 197.50-193.35 romp over instate rival Brigham Young. Equally impressive was the crowd of 14,407 that gave the Utes their 22nd national gymnastics attendance title in the last 25 years. No one wearing red left the arena disappointed after the Utes put up their best score of the season and sent five seniors out with a bang.
All but one of what is believed to be the largest graduating class in Utah gymnastics history competed for one last time for the home crowd. Natalie Nicoloff was lost for the season on Feb. 23 to an elbow injury, but Kristen Riffanacht competed on beam and floor, Gritt Hofmann on vault, beam and floor, Gabriella Onodi on beam and Dominique D'Oliveira on bars. Riffanacht, Onodi and D'Oliveira also competed several exhibition routines.
The underclassmen made a statement of their own, with sophomore Ashley Postell (39.625), junior Nicolle Ford (39.55) and freshman Nina Kim (39.50) placing one-through-three in the all-around. Postell, on fire heading into the postseason, has now scored a 39.625 or better in her last three all-around outings. Ford has been sick all week and her health steadily declined during the meet, although her routines didn't show it. Her only concession to illness was not putting in her planned upgrades on floor. Kim, as head coach Greg Marsden predicted before the season, is also heading into the postseason at the top of her game. The highly-touted freshman sat out of gymnastics last year and spent the first part of the season getting back into the groove.
But the biggest cheers were saved for the seniors--especially the popular Hofmann on the floor exercise. She received a standing ovation before, during and after her routine, and admitted her emotions got the best of her in a 9.825 performance.
Utah finished the season averaging 12,747 spectators to its six home meets to edge Alabama (12,654) for the attendance title. It is Utah's second-best season attendance average and also the best since the 1993 team averaged 13,164. The 14,407 at this meet was the seventh-biggest crowd ever to attend a home Utah gymnastics meet and the fifth 14,000-plus crowd against BYU.