Athens, Ga. • Ignorance is bliss. Apparently, ignorance doesn't get intimidated, either.
Utah's wide-eyed, young gymnastics team was so ignorant of all its bad history against Georgia here that the Utes didn't know they should have been nervous and timid competing against the Gym Dogs.
The result? A win that ended one of Utah's longest losing streaks in the program's history, as the third-ranked Utes ruined the home opener for No. 6 Georgia, taking a 195.9-195.8 victory in front of 8,331 at Stegeman Coliseum.
The win was Utah's second in Athens in the regular season, with the other occurring in 1991. It was only the Utes' third victory here in 13 visits, including postseason meets.
"It feels so good to win here," junior Stephanie McAllister said. "None of us genuinely had any idea how long it had been. We tried to stay within ourselves and compete like we had against UCLA."
Beating the defending champion Bruins at home was one thing, but walking into Georgia's house and winning puts the Utes (2-0) on a whole new level.
The Utah victory left a rowdy Georgia crowd stunned, since it was it the first time the Gym Dogs (3-1) had lost at home in almost six years, ending a streak of 34 meets. The last team to win here was Alabama on Feb. 18, 2005.
"To get a win against Georgia here is a big step up for us," senior Kyndal Robarts said. "They've been our rivals and a hard team to beat. We're a totally different team this year, and hopefully, we can keep it up through the year and keep improving."
The Utes managed the rare feat of battling back to win the meet on the balance beam.
Utah trailed 147.2-146.9 going into the final rotation, in which Georgia was on the floor and the Utes were on the balance beam.
But having the momentum and the home crowd advantage wasn't enough to keep Georgia ahead, as the Gym Dogs suffered several breaks in routines and scored just 48.6 on the floor.
While the home team was struggling in its normally strong event, the Utes were putting together a strong performance on the balance beam, totaling a 49.0.
The only major break was a fall by junior Cortni Beers, who scored a 9.225. Everyone else in the lineup managed a 9.775 or better to give the Utes the win.
Having knocked off one of their biggest rivals seemed to surprise even the Utes, who had a hard time deciphering just what the victory meant, even as they celebrated.
Utah coach Greg Marsden has an inkling, though, acknowledging victories such as Saturday's come with the anticipation of more.
"We know the expectations are going to go up," he said. "Each step of the way that happens. But again, we have to keep this in perspective. We made mistakes, and they made mistakes. Both teams did some good things, and it could have gone either way."
The meet went Utah's way thanks, in large part, to the way the freshmen performed. The rookies competed in 11 of the 24 routines, and none had any major breaks as they seemed unaware of the difficult atmosphere in which they were competing.
Mary Beth Lofgren led the group with a 9.85 on the beam and a 9.775 on the floor, while Corrie Lothrop had 9.8s on the vault and beam.
"To compete against a big school like Georgia, [I] was a little nervous," Lofgren said. "But it was fun. We focused on ourselves, and it was better than we thought."
Competing against Georgia is new to the freshmen, but losing to Georgia is an old struggle for Marsden, who joked that the "monkey was off his back." Knowing the mistakes that were made came from his more seasoned competitors made him more confident, too, believing they have the experience to work out their issues before they become real concerns.
"The people who seemed intimidated were the ones who had been here before and knew about the rivalry, so let's continue to be ignorant," Marsden said. "We made some mistakes, and both teams are going to better, but this is fun and we are on a roll. But we know we still have work to do."
No. 3 Utah 195.9, No. 6 Georgia 195.8
R IN SHORT • Utah becomes the first visiting team to win at Georgia since 2005.
KEY MOMENT • Kyndal Robarts starts to wobble on the balance beam but saves the routine and scores a 9.775, which turns out to be enough to give the Utes a victory.
KEY STAT • Utah, ranked No. 1 in the nation on the vault, posts a 49.125 to Georgia's 49.075 in the event.
First • Georgia (vault) 49.075; Utah (bars) 49.05
Second • Georgia(uneven bars) 49.2;Utah (vault) 49.125
Third • Georgia(balance beam) 48.925; Utah (floor) 48.725
Fourth • Utah (balance beam) 49.0;Georgia (floor) 48.6