Even though they compete against the top teams in the country in some of the most hostile atmospheres, going up against in-state rival BYU remains a special night for Utah's seventh-ranked gymnastics team.
"It's still Utah-BYU," said freshman Mary Beth Lofgren, whose mother competed for the Cougars. "It's still a big rivalry and it's different from the others."
It's special enough that the Utes want to keep BYU on their schedule when they make the switch to the Pac-12 next season.
However, doing so might be easier said than done, because the Utes will have very few open weekends with which to work. The benefit of the Utes being independent is that coach Greg Marsden had plenty of weeks with which to work to schedule the top powers in the country, including UCLA, Stanford, Georgia and Florida.
Starting with the 2012 season, the Utes will have just four open weeks, thanks to conference meet commitments.
Such constraints put the Utah-BYU rivalry in danger in the future, although Marsden wants it to continue.
The Utes and Cougars will meet next year on Jan. 27; after that things are undecided. BYU gymnastics is remaining independent.
"We know it's in our interest for both schools, but it could be difficult to do," Marsden said. "The one nice thing about being independent is we knew the last meet in March would be open because other teams would be at conference meets. Now we're going to have a conference meet then."
The interesting thing about the Utah-BYU rivalry is in terms of competition, it hasn't been much of a rivalry.
Utah leads the series 86-2 with the losses occurring in 1994 and 1998. The 1994 loss happened when Marsden pulled his team from the floor during the meet after getting angry with the judging.
Despite the lopsided results, attendance at the BYU-Utah meets consistently are the biggest draws for both schools.
The BYU meet has been four of the Utes' Top 10 largest crowds in school history and ranks as BYU's best-attended meet as well.
BYU coach Brad Cattermole understands the scheduling trouble facing the Utes, but remains hopeful the rivalry will continue as often as possible.
"There may be years where it doesn't work out because of the way the schedule is but it won't be because we don't want to compete against them," he said. "I would love to continue competing against them."
While pleasing gymnastics fans in Utah is reason enough to continue the series, Marsden said the Cougars are becoming more competitive.
This year, the Cougars earned an upset at No. 12 Arkansas and scored a 195.3 at Arizona last week. Furthermore, several of Utah's gymnasts have been sick or are injured, leaving the Utes with a less-than-healthy lineup.
"Our meets have always been some of our most difficult down there and any team that can go to Arkansas and win deserves respect and is competitive," Marsden said. "I don't think we can afford to discount what they've done this year."
Gymnastics: Utah at BYU
P Friday, 7 p.m., Marriott Center, Provo
Records • Utah (7-3); BYU (12-6-2)
Series history • Utah leads 86-2
Last meeting • Utah, 196.95-195.825 (March 26, 2010)
About the meet • The Utes have lost their past two meets but are 3-1 on the road this year. â¦ Corrie Lothrop and Victoria Shanley remain questionable due to injuries. â¦ BYU set a season high of 195.3 at Arizona last week.