Stanford, Calif. • Balance beam — it’s the event that the Utah Utes are better on, but as Monday showed, they are far from being the kind of team they need to be on the 4-inch wide apparatus.
In a scenario awfully similar to those of a year ago, the balance beam doomed the fourth-ranked Utes on Monday as No. 12 Stanford scored a 197-196.3 upset at Maples Pavilion.
The Utes had two falls off the beam, helping the Cardinal erase Utah’s .5 lead going into the final rotation.
The loss ended Utah’s hopes of a perfect regular season, a feat the Utes haven’t enjoyed since 1993.
But more importantly it revealed that although the Utes have made gains in conquering the apparatus, they are still susceptible to succumbing to pressure situations.
It was a maddening, depressing and upsetting revelation for the Utes.
“I don’t know what to say,” saidUtah coach Greg Marsden, visibly upset. “We are a great three-event team and the last couple of meets we have been better on the beam but today was a complete meltdown.”
The Utes managed just a 48.075 on the beam with Kailah Delaney and Mary Beth Lofgren both falling. Others had major bobbles, leaving Tory Wilson and Corrie Lothrop with the high score of 9.775.
Stanford, meanwhile, posted a 49.275 on the floor to overtake the Utes.
“It’s rough,” Wilson said of the disappointing loss. “We have this fire lit under us and we want to do better.”
Wilson said she didn’t know if the issue was more physical or mental, but for Marsden it seemed all mental.
The self-destruction was all too familiar to the many meltdowns the Utes have had on the apparatus in recent seasons.
All the Utes had to do was hit what he considered an average score on the beam and their perfect mark would have remained intact.
“We had a chance to win, but nobody competed like they practice,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but obviously our mental approach isn’t what it needs to be. We weren’t confident or aggressive.”
Marsden was aggressive in his approach, making a last-minute change and using Georgia Dabritz in the beam lineup instead of Breanna Hughes, who had trouble in warmups.
Dabritz was having an excellent meet, earning a 9.975 on the floor, 9.925 on the uneven bars and a 9.875 on the vault.
She had a bobble on the beam but managed to stay on and earned a 9.675.
Unfortunately others weren’t so lucky as the falls and bobbles cost the Utes dearly.
“I can’t speak for the others but I felt the same in practice out there,” Dabritz said. “But it wasn’t our best. We have to come back and work harder.”
What was so disappointing is the meet was set up for the Utes to prove once and for all they were a better beam team.
“We went in it going for the win,” Marsden said. “I put Georgia in because we wanted the win. It was what we wanted, leading going into the last rotation, and we have to find a way to respond.”
In short • The Utes take their first loss of the year after suffering two falls from the balance beam.
Key moment • Standord’s Kristina Vaculik scores a 9.95 on the floor to seal the Cardinal’s win.
Key stat • Utah’s 48.075 on the balance beam is its lowest score of the year in the event.
Vault • Kailah Delaney (Utah) 9.95
Uneven bars • Georgia Dabritz (Utah) 9.925
Balance beam • Shona Morgan (Stanford), Nicolette McNair (Stanford), Amanda Spinner (Stanford) 9.85
Floor • Georgia Dabritz (Utah) 9.975
All-Around • Kristina Vaculik (Stanford) 39.475