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U. gymnasts go from underdogs to favorites
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Technically, Utah's gymnastics team has gone from underdogs to strong favorites in their meet at Georgia on Monday, as the Utes held their No. 2 spot in the ranking while Georgia tumbled from No. 1 to No. 8.

However, since the rankings are based on averages and both teams have only had one meet, the Utes aren't putting too much stock into the rankings; they'd rather prove they're better on the competition floor.

"That is the great thing about this sport, it's about what you do that day," Beth Rizzo said. "We all have just one meet under our belt and I doubt many teams are going to count their season-opening score by the end of the season. But do I think we have a chance? For sure. Even if they were ranked No. 1, I'd think we'd have a chance."

Utah has lost its last two meets at Georgia since the teams resumed competing against one another in the regular season. However, this might be Utah's best chance of beating the Gym Dogs on their home floor, since the Utes are starting the season strong and Georgia is without Olympian Courtney McCool , who is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in her foot.

Georgia does have another Olympian in Courtney Kupets , who tore her Achilles' tendon in March. She proved she is back as good as ever, winning the all-around with a 39.45.

She was one of the few bright spots for Georgia in its 195.425-194.075 win over West Virginia, a meet that was Georgia's lowest season-opening score since 1999. Mistakes and poor efforts prompted Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan to call it "embarrassing," and say her team didn't look like a "top 15 team," according to media reports.

The Utes, on the other hand, feel good about their gymnastics after Friday's 196.175-196.075 win over No. 4 UCLA.

"We're doing better than we expected," senior Kristina Baskett said. "Hopefully it's enough that we can go in and get a win, but either way we know what really counts is what happens in April."

Woulda shoulda coulda

Utah coach Greg Marsden said Rizzo is out for 4 to 6 weeks with a badly sprained left ankle, the result of falling in her floor routine Friday. Rizzo said she was struggling in practice and in hindsight wished she hadn't competed.

"I went out to prove to myself I could do it and I tried too hard," she said. "I had the wrong mental approach to it and it went very wrong."

X-rays revealed Rizzo has bone chips in her ankle, but it's unknown whether they were present before the injury or the result of the injury.

Around the nation

Georgia wasn't the only top team that struggled in the first big weekend of competition. No. 11 Nebraska, which hosts the NCAAs this year, lost to No. 14 Denver 194.35-194.25. No. 6 Alabama had to come from behind to beat No. 15 Auburn 195.675-195.65 in the smallest margin of victory between the teams. No. 3 Florida had one of the better openings with a 196.5-195.075 win over No. 10 Oklahoma, the school's fourth-highest opening total in school history that was good enough to put the Gators at No. 1. Six of Florida's routines were by gymnasts making their collegiate debuts.

Around the state

BYU, which has had a rough start to the season, competes at San Jose State on Friday. The Cougars lost to No. 9 Oregon State 194.55-188.975 Friday. BYU coach Brad Cattermole attributes the struggles to the youth of the team and says the Cougars are better than the scores are indicating. The Cougars have one of their youngest lineups with no seniors and only seven routines returning from 2008. … SUU, picked to finish second in the WAC behind Boise State, opens Friday at CS Fullerton. … Utah State, which began a new era under coach Jeff Richards with a 191-187.15 loss at Kentucky, has its home opener Friday against Central Michigan. Richards is taking over for Ray Corn , who retired after 31 years.

In the rankings

Utah's vault score of 49.425 is the highest on the event so far in the season. … Both Utah and Arkansas had the highest uneven bars score (49.075). … Baskett's 9.925 on the uneven bars against UCLA is only second to Georgia's Kupets (9.975) for the highest mark in the country. … Nina Kim 's vault score of 9.95 is the nation's best score.

lwodraska@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">lwodraska@sltrib.com

Top 25

1. Florida 196.500

2. Utah 196.175

3. UCLA 196.075

4. Auburn 196.012

5. Arkansas 195.775

6. Alabama 195.675

7. Stanford 195.600

8. Georgia 195.425

9. Oklahoma 195.075

10. Missouri 195.050

11. Penn State 194.800

12. Ohio State 194.625

13. Oregon State 194.562

14. LSU 194.537

15. Minnesota 194.375

16. Nebraska 194.125

17. Denver 194.087

18. West Virginia 194.075

19. Ill.-Champgn 193.950

20. UIC 193.850

21. Boise State 193.700

22. No. Illinois 193.450

23. San Jose St. 193.300

24. Iowa State 193.175

25. N. Carolina St. 192.675

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