March 16, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
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The final regular season meet awaits the No. 2 ranked Utah gymnastics team (12-1) this Friday, Mar. 19, when it hosts No. 9 Brigham Young (15-4) ... The Hilton Shootout will start at 7:00 p.m. in the Huntsman Center ... Friday's meet is Senior Night and Ute senior All-Americans Melissa Vituj
and Veronique Leclerc
will be honored in a pre-meet ceremony ... The Utah-BYU meet will be televised nationally on BYU-TV (details below) ... Utah is 5-0 at home this season.
The Utes need a near capacity crowd to turn out for Friday's meet against rival BYU in the Huntsman Center in order to win the 2004 NCAA attendance title. Utah currently ranks second with a home attendance with an average of 9,485. Alabama (10,274 average) is first and Georgia (9,065) is third. Both Southeastern Conference teams have completed their home schedules. To pass Alabama in the stands, Utah must draw 14,225 to Friday's meet. That would be the sixth-largest crowd in Utah history (eighth-largest in NCAA history). The Utah-BYU meet in Salt Lake City has surpassed the magic number of 14,225 three times in the past: 15,072 in 1992, 14,679 in 1994 and 14,285 in 2002. Utah has won 20 of the 22 NCAA attendance titles to date. The Utes finished second to Alabama in 1997 and to Georgia in 2001.
The Utah-BYU meet will be televised live nationally on BYU-TV, which can be accessed on the Dish Network (channel 9403) and DirecTV Plus (channel 374). BYU-TV is also available on many cable services, whose listings by state can be found on the Internet at byutv.org. Locally, the meet will be tape delayed on KBYU, Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
PRACTICE TIMES & INTERVIEW POLICY
Gymnastics training this week will be on Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Dumke Gymnastics Center. The Utes will do fitness training on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.-noon. Interview access will be from 9:30-10 a.m. Monday through Thursday. All practices are open to the public and the media. Call sports information director Liz Abel at 801-581-3511 to arrange interviews.
Friday night will mark the final Huntsman Center appearance for Utah senior All-Americans Melissa Vituj
and Veronique Leclerc
. The duo, which hopes to lead Utah to a record 23rd-consecutive NCAA Championships in April, has competed for three NCAA Super Six teams to date. Vituj, a team co-captain and the 2003 Ute co-MVP, is an eight-time All-American. Leclerc, a four-time All-American, was Utah's top finisher at the 2003 NCAA Championships, placing third on the uneven bars.
Utah will find out on Monday, Mar. 22 where it will go for the regional championships. The top 18 teams, based on regional qualifying score (RQS), will be seeded and paired into six regions (three per region). The remaining three slots will be filled from within region. *The RQS is reached by taking a team's six best scores-three of which must be road scores-dropping the high score and averaging the remaining five. Five of the six regional championships will be held on Saturday, April 3 and one (at LSU) will be held on Friday, April 2. The top two teams from each region will advance to the NCAA Championships, April 15-17 in Los Angeles.
NCAA REGIONAL SITES
The six NCAA regional sites are as follows: Oregon State (West), Denver (North Central), Arizona (South Central), LSU (Central), Penn State (Northeast), North Carolina State (Southeast). Utah is located in the North Central region but may be sent out of region depending on the final 18-team seeding. All host teams stay home to compete, regardless of their seed.
The Mar. 15 rankings, based on regional qualifying score (RQS), follow: 1. UCLA 198.040, 2. Utah 197.495, 3. Alabama 197.455, 4. Georgia 197.410, 5. Louisiana State 197.365, 6. Stanford 197.350, 7. Iowa State 197.210, 8. Florida 197.180, 9. Brigham Young 197.125, 10. Oregon State 197.090, 11. Nebraska 196.960, 12. Washington 196.930, 13. North Carolina 196.900, 14. Missouri and Arizona 196.775, 16. Oklahoma 196.745, 17. Iowa 196.610, 18. Denver 196.570, 19. Michigan 196.470, 20. Auburn 196.435, 21. West Virginia 196.335, 22. Arizona State 196.325, 23. North Carolina State 196.240, 24. Arkansas 196.235, 25. Michigan State 196.130.
Three very good events proved just enough for Utah to stay undefeated at home and beat No. 10 Oregon State 197.675-197.450 last Friday in the Huntsman Center. Utah scored a 49.50 or better on vault, bars and floor. However, a marginal beam outing (49.10) combined with a huge OSU night on the beam (49.60) made for a photo finish. Senior Melissa Vituj
excelled across the board, winning the all-around with a 39.675 and floor (9.95), while tying for first on bars (9.925) with freshman Rachel Tidd
. Tidd also won vault with a 9.975.
RANKING THE UTES
Utah has individuals ranked nationally on every apparatus, including two in the all-around. In the all-around, junior Annabeth Eberle
is tied for fifth with a 39.625 regional qualifying score (RQS), while senior Melissa Vituj
is No. 8 with a 39.605 RQS. Eberle is also ranked No. 2 on vault (9.970) and Vituj is tied for seventh on floor (9.945), 10th on beam (9.925) and 24th on vault (9.905). Also ranked for the Utes is freshman Rachel Tidd
on vault (tied for eighth, 9.940) and bars (tied for 10th, 9.920).
Utah has posted four of the 10 best all-time scores in school history this year: 198.050 vs. Utah State on Feb. 27 (second), 197.950 at Washington on Mar. 5 (third), 197.675 vs. OSU on Mar. 12 (eighth) and 197.650 vs. Iowa on Feb. 6 (ninth). The score at Washington was the best road score ever by a Ute team ... Still without a fall this year are Annabeth Eberle
(30-30), Kristen Riffanacht
(24-24), Natalie Nicoloff
(11-11) and Gritt Hofmann
(7-7) ... Eberle saw her season win streak snapped on vault last week by freshman Rachel Tidd
. Eberle was 7-0 on vault before placing third on Mar. 12 ... Eberle leads Utah with 18 victories. Close behind is Melissa Vituj
with 14 ... Utah has five 10.0 scores to date: Eberle on vault at UCLA and Washington, 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 leads BYU 72-2 in a series that dates back to 1976. Utah is unbeaten (33-0) against the Cougars at home. Utah's two losses fell in 1994 and 1998 in Provo. Utah has won the last 14 including the first match-up this year: Utah overcame three falls on bars to beat BYU 196.225-194.700 on Jan. 23 in Provo.
Ranked No. 9 ... 15-4 ... school record 198.025 vs. Utah State on Mar. 12 ...five straight 197.00 or better scores includes top four scores in school history (198.025, 197.65, 197.55, 197.475) ... top all-arounders are Kari Lords (39.65) and Jaime Mabray (39.50) ... Brad Cattermole is 211-236-1 in his 17th year as Cougar head coach.
, the most successful coach in collegiate gymnastics history, is in his 29th year at Utah. He is college gymnastics' only 700 win coach (792-131-5). In regular season competition, Marsden is 397-57-2. 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.
"This should be a barnburner as both teams appear to be peaking and are scoring similar scores. It makes what is always an intense rivalry even that more intense as both teams fight to get the best possible seed into regionals.
"Besides helping our regional qualifying score, we're also in a battle with Alabama for the attendance title. We've won it 20 out of the last 22 years and hate to give anything away to the SEC. Last, but certainly not least, we'd like a big crowd to pay tribute to two great senior athletes: Melissa Vituj and Veronique Leclerc. I can't even think about the day they're not involved with our program, so I won't. Both have been a big part of our program since the day they arrived on campus. It's going to be an emotional good-bye."