March 1, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
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The No. 6 ranked Utah gymnastics team (8-1) faces its last regular season road meet of the season this Friday in Seattle, where the Utes will tangle with No. 12 Washington (7-3-1) and No. 16 Iowa (8-3) ... The tri-meet begins at 7 p.m. PST in the Bank of America Arena ... Utah is 3-1 on the road this year and 1-0 against neutral site opponents ... Washington is coming off the biggest win in school history, a 197.225-197.100 win over No. 1 ranked UCLA-a team Utah beat earlier in the season in Los Angeles.
UTE INJURY UPDATE
Expected to return to action for the Utes is All-America all-arounder Annabeth Eberle
, who has missed the last two and a half meets with an ankle injury. Out for this week's competition with a back injury will be star freshman all-arounder Nicolle Ford
. Junior Gritt Hofmann
could return to the floor and/or vault lineups. Hofmann has competed just one routine in the last six weeks due to hip and back injuries.
This week's Top 25 is based on regional qualifying score (RQS): 1. UCLA 197.745, 2. Georgia 197.405, 3. Alabama 197.325, 4. LSU 197.060, 5. Stanford 197.030, 6. Utah 197.020, 7. Florida 196.965, 8. Iowa State 196.795, 9. Arizona 196.750, 10. Oklahoma 196.725, 11. Nebraska 196.625, 12. Washington 196.570, 13. Oregon State 196.485, 14. Brigham Young 196.455, 15. North Carolina 196.395, 16. Iowa 196.390, 17. Auburn 196.365, 18. Missouri 196.330, 19. Michigan 196.280, 20. Arkansas 196.190, 21. Arizona State 195.855, 22. Denver 195.850, 23. Michigan State 195.700, 24. Penn State 195.545, 25. Minnesota 195.395.
won three events and the all-around to lead Utah to the second highest score in school history and a 198.050-195.475 win over Utah State. Vituj shattered her career high and tallied the third-best all-around score in school history, a 39.875. For the second straight week, she scored a 10.0-this time on the balance beam. She also set a career-high to win bars (9.975) and won vault with a season-best 9.925. Beating Vituj for the top spot on floor was fellow senior Veronique Leclerc
, who scored the first 10.0 of her career. Placing second in the all-around was Rachel Tidd
, whose career-best 39.60 score is tied for the 11th-best in school history.
RANKING THE UTES
Utah is ranked third on both vault (49.435 RQS) and bars (49.33). The Utes are tied for eighth on floor (49.410) and 11th on beam (49.140). Four Utes are ranked individually, including three on the vault, where Annabeth Eberle
is No. 4 with a 9.95 RQS, and Nicolle Ford
(9.90) and Rachel Tidd
(9.90) are tied for 15th. Tidd and Ford are also ranked on bars: Tidd is tied for 23rd (9.885) and Ford is tied for 25th (9.880). Melissa Vituj
is tied for eighth on floor (9.93) and 18th on beam (9.895).
Still without a fall this year are Annabeth Eberle
(22-22), Kristen Riffanacht
(17-17), Natalie Nicoloff
(9-9) and Gritt Hofmann
(5-5) ... Eberle leads Utah with 16 victories, has "hit" all 22 routines she has performed and is 6-0 in vault competitions this season ... Vituj has 10 victories, including four on floor ... Utah has four 10.0 scores to date: Eberle on vault at UCLA, Vituj on floor at Arizona State and on beam vs. Utah State, and Veronique Leclerc
on floor vs. Utah State ... Vituj is the only Ute to go all-around in every meet this season.
Utah vs. Washington: Utah leads 30-0-1 (7-0-1 in Seattle).Utes have won 3 straight since the series' only tie in 2001 in Seattle.
Utah vs. Iowa: Utah leads 3-0 (1-0 at neutral sites). Utah beat Iowa earlier this season in Salt Lake City, 197.650-195.900, on Feb. 6.
Ranked No. 12 ... 7-3-1 ... beat No. 1 UCLA last week in Seattle (197.225-197.100) ... scored season-high 197.325 in win over Arizona State on Feb. 13 in Seattle ... top all-arounders and their season highs: Kelly McDonald (39.825), Emily Pritchard (39.725), Carly Dockendorf (39.525) and former Ute Tacia LaBatte
(39.375) ... head coach Bob Levesque is 162-127-2 in his 14th year.
Ranked No. 16 ... 8-3 ... season-high 197.150 came at Maryland on Feb. 14 ... top all-arounders and their season highs: Alexis Maday (39.75), Stephanie Gran (39.650) and Annie Rue (39.175) ... head coach Mike Lorenzen is 25-24 in his fifth year.
, the most successful coach in collegiate gymnastics history, is in his 29th year at Utah. He is college gymnastics' only 700 win coach (788-131-5). In regular season competition, Marsden is 393-57-2. 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.
"The meet at Washington this week is the most important regular season meet remaining for two reasons: First, away meet scores count more heavily toward seeding into regionals, and second, we need to gain confidence in our ability to compete consistently on the road going into postseason competition.
"It's fortunate that Annabeth (Eberle) is going to compete this week, especially since we won't have Nicolle Ford available. It would be very tough for us to have them both out. I know Annabeth has really struggled sitting on the sidelines and watching the last two meets, but we made a decision to hold her out and give that ankle a chance to rest in hopes she could get through the remainder of the season.
"I'm really pleased with how Veronique (Leclerc) competed last week. She seems to be in a very good place right now and is competing with more confidence than earlier in the year. She did a great job with upgrades in just her second floor routine of the season. It appears that Melissa Vituj is also hitting her stride. Mel has been much more relaxed the last two competitions and is back to performances that are more typical for her.
"Both Washington and Iowa are very good teams this year. This will be a valuable challenge for us because it will give us a taste of what's ahead in the postseason, in terms of the level of competition we'll face and the pressures of doing well on the road. Washington is always very hard to beat on their home floor. Look at what happened to UCLA last week."