Utah gymnastics: Utes face scheduling challenge
Hosting a four-team meet is one of Utah coach Greg Marsden's least favorite formats, but more events such as Saturday's might be in the Utes' future as Marsden continues to look for creative ways to meet the Pac-12 schedule requirements and appease fans.
With six conference meets to schedule, Marsden really has four open dates. Those can be filled quickly with Utah's familiar rivals such as Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Nebraska plus the local teams.
To solve the scheduling issues, Marsden said he is open to the idea of holding multi-team events that include a mix of national or Pac-12 powers plus local teams.
Traditionalists will be happy to know he wants to keep BYU on the schedule, ideally scheduling the Cougars as the season opener.
"It's BYU-Utah," he said. "Whether they are ranked or we are ranked it doesn't matter. It's always our highest attended meet of the year and it works out for us because it is an inexpensive away meet. Our team can go to class then get on the bus. There are a lot of positives to it."
Marsden said he wouldn't mind adding other local teams such as SUU and Utah State to the schedule, although he doesn't want to have more than one meet a year with multiple teams.
"I'm not a huge fan of them, but it is important we keep BYU on the schedule so I'm determined to work with that," he said.
One thing that is doubtful is a repeat of Saturday's format in which one gymnast competed at a time. The format pushed the meet over two hours, which was too long in Marsden's estimation.
In the rankings
As is customary during the early part of the season, the rankings saw some major changes with Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida, UCLA and Alabama holding the Top 5 places.
Michigan took over the top spot after notching a 197.35 in a win over Illinois (195.1). UCLA, which had a bye, held the previous top spot.
Arizona, which hosts Utah on Friday, is ranked 13th after winning a four-team meet with a 195.8.
"They have done a better job recruiting and have some kids doing a nice job at the end of the lineups," Marsden said. "It will be another big challenge for us."
The Utes hope freshman Taylor Allex, who made her debut with a 9.8 on the vault Saturday, can continue to work her way into the lineup.
She was slowed by a back injury in the preseason.
"I think that was good motivation for her," Marsden said of Saturday's performance. "That got her competitive juices flowing so hopefully in the next few weeks we can get her on floor. The one thing she is lacking is conditioning."
Satisfied that Saturday's performance, in which the Utes competed without any falls, is more indicative of the team's level, Marsden said the next phase for the Utes is cleaning up the small errors in routines.
"We need to emphasize landings on vault, transitions on bars and landings on floor," he said. "We need to make sure we can handle the situations better on the road too. At UCLA we had the band and student section yelling right there at us. It will probably be a different environment at Arizona."
1. Michigan 196.942
2. Oklahoma 196.825
3. Florida 196.817
4. UCLA 196.788
5. Alabama 196.513
6. Nebraska 196.5
7. LSU 196.158
8. Utah 196.125
9. Georgia 195.892
10. Stanford 195.725
11. Denver 195.717
12. Minnesota 195.538
13. Arizona 195.492
14. Maryland 195.488
15. Kentucky 195.383
16. Oregon St. 194.975
17. Boise St. 194.875
18. Auburn 194.858
19. Ohio St. 194.842
20. C. Michigan 194.733
21. California 194.708
22. Pittsburgh 194.6
23. Kent St. 194.513
24. N.C. St. 194.5
25. E. Michigan 194.475
Utah at Arizona