Jan. 5, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader
Some select notes on the Utah-UCLA meet on Jan. 10 follow. For complete information, please click on the PDF version above.
The Utah gymnastics team, ranked No. 4 in the preseason coaches poll, opens its 2004 season against No. 1 ranked and defending NCAA champion UCLA this Saturday in Los Angeles ... It marks the second straight year Utah has opened its season against the Bruins ... Utah and UCLA are two of just four programs-Alabama and Georgia are the others-to have won an NCAA Championship. Utah has won 10 national titles (nine NCAA)-most recently in 1995. UCLA owns four NCAA Championships, including three of the last four. Its first title was in 1997 ... Saturday's Utah-UCLA meet will be held in Pauley Pavilion, site of the 2004 NCAA Championships on April 15-17.
Utah was ranked No. 4 in the preseason coaches poll, which was issued on Dec. 8. The preseason Top 25 follows (first place votes in parentheses): 1. UCLA 938 (27), 2. Georgia 895 (8), 3. Alabama 864 (1), 4. Utah 794 (1), 5. Michigan 758 (1), 6. Stanford 751, 7. (tie) Florida, Nebraska 700, 9. Arizona State 628, 10. Louisiana State 553, 11. Oregon State 447, 12. Iowa 444, 13. Oklahoma 402, 14. Auburn 372, 15. Washington 370, 16. Iowa State 348, 17. Arizona 290, 18. Denver 287, 19. Penn State 259, 20. North Carolina 254, 21. California 157, 22. Minnesota 129, 23. Ohio State 128, 24. Brigham Young 110, 25. Missouri 100.
Utah meets the No. 1 ranked team right out of the blocks this Saturday in Los Angeles, where the Utes will face defending NCAA champion UCLA, but that's not the only highlight on the 2004 schedule. In fact, nine of Utah's 11 regular season opponents are ranked in the preseason Top 25. At home, the Utes will meet No. 7 Nebraska (Jan. 16), No. 22 Minnesota (Jan. 30), No. 12 Iowa (Feb. 6), No. 11 Oregon State (Mar. 12) and No. 24 Brigham Young (Mar. 19). Utah has road meets with BYU (Jan. 23), as well as No. 5 Michigan, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 14 Washington.
Although Utah owns a hefty 32-11 series lead over UCLA, the Bruins have dominated lately, winning six straight dating back to the 2000 NCAA Championships where they and Utah finished 1-2. Utah's last victory against the Bruins was in Salt Lake City on Feb. 14, 2000. Utah leads 8-2 in Los Angeles, last beating the Bruins on their home court at the 1998 NCAA Championships. UCLA snapped Utah's NCAA-record home court win streak last Jan. 10, beating the Utes 197.225-196.750 in the Huntsman Center. Utah had not lost a regular season meet at home in 23 years while winning 170 straight home meets-an NCAA record for any sport-before its loss to UCLA.
, the most successful coach in collegiate gymnastics history, is in his 29th year at Utah. He is college gymnastics' only 700 win coach (780-130-5). In regular season competition, Marsden is 385-56-2. He has spent his entire career at Utah and has won 10 national championships, double that of any other coach. Four of those titles came in the '90s (1990, '92, '94, '95). Fifteen of his teams have placed in the top-three at the national championships, most recently in 2000 (second). Marsden is a seven-time National Coach of the Year recipient.
"For the next few years, Val (UCLA head coach Kondos Field) and I are going to open our seasons against each other. I think meeting UCLA is a great way to start the season because it lets us know right from the get-go where we are and what we need to do from that point forward. Obviously, they are a great team, so this is a meaningful meet right out of the chute.
"We've gotten a little beat up since Christmas, probably from pressing to get ready for the first meet. Annabeth (Eberle) hurt her back just before Christmas break and we really have had to nurse that and work around it. The plan right now is to compete her all-around this Saturday, but we're taking it day by day. What she gets done depends on how that back is feeling. Her training has been off and on since the injury.
"Kristen (Riffanacht) has plantar fasciitis and a number of the kids are developing some shin splint symptoms. I don't think it's anything that will create problems long term, but we're just struggling with a little bit of overuse stuff as we get ready for Saturday.
"Rachel (Tidd) really struggled with nagging injuries until Thanksgiving and things have gotten progressively better since then, especially since Christmas. Because she's a little behind, she's not going to be doing everything we want, and she's a little less consistent in practice than I'd like to see, but when she's on she really looks good, so we're going to go with her.
"Melissa (Vituj) seems to be healthy, ready to go and excited about the season starting. Nicolle (Ford) has impressed everyone since the day she arrived and has continued to improve in most areas. I think she's really going to do a great job for us as a freshman this year."