Having fans turned away at their final home meet of the 2011 season left Utah's gymnastics team feeling both good and bad about the situation.
The sixth-ranked Utes, who lost to Florida 197.0-196.75 in front of an NCAA gymnastics record crowd of 15,558, were disappointed many fans were turned away at the door but can do little to make up for the inconvenience.
General admission seats in the Huntsman Center filled up, and most of the lower-bowl seats are held by season-ticket holders.
"We talked about it and if we had another home meet, we'd give them a ticket to that meet," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "Unfortunately, we don't, so there isn't much we can do at this point."
The Utes travel to No. 7 Oregon State then finish their regular season schedule at BYU on March 18.
Having the top-ranked team in town for the final home meet of the year turned into a situation the Utes didn't expect, Marsden said.
"It's a double-edged sword because you want to fill the arena, and it was great to go to dinner and have my son tell me about people scalping tickets and watching the meet outside the door by watching the JumboTron," Marsden said. "It's great that there is that kind of interest, â¦ but you never want people to have a bad experience," Marsden said. "The only thing we can do at this point is hopefully encourage people to buy season tickets."
The Utes normally give away many general admission tickets to the upper bowl as a way of getting fans into the arena, believing once they see a meet they'll become hooked and buy season tickets.
The tactic has worked: The Utes have more than 6,000 season-ticket holders. However, situations such as Friday's leave Marsden wondering how many promotional tickets the Utes can give away in the future.
"I don't think at this point it is something we have to be concerned about happening at every meet," he said. "We'd rather have those seats filled and get people hooked on gymnastics. But we don't want to create that situation happening again."
The Utes averaged 13,503 fans for their six home meets, the third best in school history behind 2010 (14,213) and 2009 (13,861).
"It wasn't until we went to floor that I looked up and saw how packed it was," junior Stephanie McAllister said. "It was a crazy atmosphere, but in a good way.
Utah senior Gael Mackie, who scored a 9.9 on the vault, a 9.875 on the uneven bars and a 9.85 on the floor, appears to have worked out some of the inconsistencies that were plaguing her earlier in the year.
"Gael has come a long way in the last couple of weeks," Marsden said. "She is really on the road to conquering the demons we talked about. I do think it was a matter of trying too hard and wanting things so badly she tightens up rather than just letting the gymnastics come to her."
Corrie Lothrop, who was a last-minute addition to the balance beam lineup after her ankle responded well to tests Friday morning, should be able to compete at Oregon State. However, Marsden has learned that the injury is an unpredictable one and his main concern is making sure Lothrop is available for the postseason.
"The ankle thing is a bit of a mystery," he said. "The way it comes and goes, I just hope it is gone for good this time."
In the rankings
Florida remained No. 1 while Alabama and Stanford swapped spots at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. â¦ McAllister is No. 5 in the all-around (39.385) and tied for fourth on the uneven bars (9.905). Mackie is ninth on the uneven bars (9.885).
Team Season avg. Pvs. rank
1. Florida 197.17 1
2. Alabama 196.915 3
3. Stanford 196.715 2
4. Oklahoma 196.515 4
5. Oregon State 196.505 7
6. Utah 196.385 5
7. Georgia 196.325 6
8. UCLA 196.17 8
9. Michigan 196.045 9
10. Nebraska 195.94 10
10. Penn State 195.94 13
28. BYU 194.74 25
33. SUU 194.285 33
45. Utah State 192.685 NR