Utah’s gymnastics team has evolved from a squad that sometimes enjoyed a rare 197 to making the mark a habit.
The Utes, who eclipsed that score for the first time in two seasons with their win over Utah State two weeks ago, did it again Friday in a 197.55-194.45 win over rival BYU in front of 15,310 at the Huntsman Center.
Utah 197.55,BYU 194.45In short » The Utes scored a season high to beat BYU for the 30th straight time in front of a season-high crowd.
Key moment » Kailah Delaney stuck her vault and earned a 9.95, her third-straight score over 9.9.
Key stat » Utah’s last four gymnasts on the uneven bars earned 9.9, leading to a season-high 49.45 on the event.
Vault » Kailah Delaney (Utah), 9.95
Uneven bars » Cortni Beers (Utah), Georgia Dabritz (Utah), Corrie Lothrop (Utah), Stephanie McAllister (Utah), 9.9
Balance beam » Cortni Beers (Utah) 9.9
Floor » Corrie Lothrop (Utah), 9.925
All-around » Corrie Lothrop (Utah), 39.575
The score was the highest the Utes have reached since beating BYU 197.8-192.85 in 2009. Sophomore Corrie Lothrop won the all-around with a 39.575.
The score left the Utes as surprised as anyone over their performance.
"This team continues to amaze me," senior Stephanie McAllister said. "It’s such a young group of freshmen and sophomores but they have so much talent and depth. We’re not supposed to think about the outcome and the score when we are out there, but once we heard the score, that was really cool."
Coming off one of their earliest byes in recent years, the Utes quickly erased any worries the break might have hurt their momentum and squashed any thoughts of a BYU upset as they started out with a 49.3 on the vault.
The meet just got better from there as the Utes posted a season-high 49.45 on the uneven bars and followed it with a 49.35 on the balance beam.
The Utes finished out the big night with a 49.45 on floor, led by a 9.925 from Lothrop.
"I’m really happy for this team," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "This is a unique group. They’re hard-working and obviously talented, but they don’t take anything for granted. They want to get better. We were going to take it easy this week, and they asked to come in on days off and work on upgrades and things, and as a coach that makes it really fun. They are personally invested."
BYU, which was coming off an upset win at SUU, never threatened to steal the win from the Utes. Raquel Willman had a 39.025 in the all-around for the Cougars while the team-high score was a 9.875 from Krystan Koval on the balance beam.
So just how dominating were the Utes? Consider this: BYU’s best routine was below the average of Utah’s counting scores, which was 9.8775 a routine. No wonder then the Utes were so happy about breaking that 197 mark.
"If you can reach 197, you know you are one of the good teams," senior Kyndal Robarts said.
The Utes broke the 197 mark seven times in 2009, including their regional win of 197.675 and at the NCAA Championships, where a 197.425 was good enough for a third-place finish.
That they are in the same range as they were in the postseason during 2009 is just a sign of the potential the Utes have, McAllister believes.
"That shows how much talent we have throughout the lineup," she said. "The routines are great start to finish, and anyone in the lineup could score big."
Marsden said the depth the Utes have makes it hard to decide lineups, but that is just the situation the top teams in the nation must face.
Tough decisions for him, though, are leading to nights like Friday’s.
"You have to have that kind of depth where you are capable of going 9.9 or above, and we have that in the last half of our lineups, some events it’s 1-through-6."
Still, there is room for improvement, he said.
"I know the talent of those other teams," he said of the nation’s best. "It would be naive on our part to think we have arrived or are even close to having arrived. We can’t focus too much or let our heads get too big about the scores."
But they sure can enjoy them.
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