Utah's gymnastics coaches seemed as relieved as excited to win the school's first Pac-12 title on Saturday. As Utah coach Greg Marsden said, he wants all of Utah's programs to do well, but he wanted to be first.
Marsden, in his 39th season as the Utes' coach, knew the deal. He knew given Utah's long successful history that his team would be expected to bring home the first league title.
The Utes missed out the last two years, finishing second and then third, after issues on the balance beam.
While missing out on the league title was disappointing, falling to ninth at the NCAAs last year was an embarrassment, in the team's estimation.
The collapses were in danger of giving Utah a new reputation of being chokers rather than a respected program that should be feared.
With the Utes performing so well throughout the 2014 regular season, save for the meltdown at Stanford, the pressure was on everyone involved with Utah's gymnastics program to do well at the 2014 Pac-12 Championships.
Anything short of a win would be unsatisfactory for the top seed. Another collapse would have unbearable for the Utes.
Turns out, there was no need to worry as the Utes' new attitude this season brought new results.
They came through in dominating fashion, winning or tying for all of the awards except for balance beam. It was as perfect a night as the Utes could have hoped to have.
Marsden and his wife, co-coach Megan, watched with satisfaction as his team celebrated their win at Cal. Marsden left the arena with the blue, Pac-12 trophy carefully wrapped in a box and tucked under his arm.
The trophy may have been a little hefty, but Marsden's step was light.
- Lya Wodraska
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