Utah struggles at start, Washington nails last event for “weird” result.
By Lya Wodraska
| The Salt Lake Tribune
Seattle • Utah’s gymnastics team failed in its quest to pick up a Pac-12 win against Washington.
The good news? The Utes weren’t tagged with a loss, either.
Utah and Washington settled their Pac-12 showdown with the most unsatisfying of outcomes as the teams finished tied at 195.975.
It was the first time the Utes ended a meet in a tie since 2001. The opponent that year? You guessed it: Washington.
That year, the Huskies needed a 10.0 on the floor to tie the Utes at 196.725. On Friday, they needed a 9.925 from Aliza Vaccher in the final floor routine.
Vaccher delivered, leaving both teams awkwardly celebrating when the scores were announced.
Many of Utah’s gymnasts had assumed they’d lost after a poor start left them trailing from the start.
"That never happens," Utah’s Mary Beth Lofgren said of the tie. "With all those scores and all those routines, to end in a tie is weird."
Weird at least felt better than a loss for the sixth-ranked Utes, who played catchup after some early mistakes.
Utah’s hopes for a win rested with Lofgren, who scored a 9.85 as the last to go on the balance beam. With everyone else hitting their routines, Lofgren said she didn’t feel any pressure despite the close scores.
"After they hit, I could just go out and try to have fun," she said. "It definitely helped."
No doubt the No. 23 Huskies felt better about the night’s outcome than the Utes, who suffered two falls on the uneven bars when Tory Wilson and Kassandra Lopez, two of the more dependable gymnasts, both had uncharacteristic mistakes. Wilson fell, scoring 8.9, and Lopez balked on her first start after hitting the board and was awarded a 9.35 after a deduction. The low scores left the Utes trailing Washington 49.075-48.425.
"We can’t keep having starts like that," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "That is two out of three road meets where we’ve done this."
Utah tied the Huskies in the second rotation on vault, where the Utes posted a 49.325, led by Wilson’s 9.95.
But that is when things went sideways for the Utes as Washington competed with confidence on the balance beam while the Utes were shaky on floor.
Lofgren had a near fall and scored just 9.525, and others had missteps that led to lower-than-normal scores.
Utah led the Huskies just 146.95-146.875 going into the final rotation. The Utes average 48.905 on the beam while Washington ranks just 41st on the floor, averaging 48.51. But being favored in the averages often means little when the home team is finishing on floor.
Turns out, the Utes had just enough to avoid a loss. They just didn’t have enough to win.
"We weren’t very good," Marsden said. "But you have to give Washington a lot of credit, too. They had a nice meet, and we have to learn you can’t give away the first event of the night."