Joining the Pac-12 might be a big adjustment for many of the University of Utah's teams. But for the gymnastics team well, the Utes feel right at home.
Utah's fifth-ranked gymnasts, who open the season Sunday at top-ranked UCLA, are accustomed to competing against the Pac-12 squads.
The Utes are 276-44-3 against Pac-12 teams combined and are 43-17-1 against the Bruins, including a 7-2 mark against UCLA in openers.
For the Utes, moving to the Pac-12 doesn't require much of an adjustment, although they admit there are different expectations for their program than others at Utah.
While the football team's mid-league finish might be viewed as acceptable to many, Utah's gymnastics team knows expectations are it not only should contend for a league title but maybe win it.
Rather than trying to downplay the high hopes, the Utes welcome them.
"It makes us proud to be a part of an actual conference," sophomore Corrie Lothrop said. "We've been competing against those teams for a while, so we know what to expect. Being in a conference is just a different challenge for us."
The Pac-12 welcomed the Utes by asking Utah to host the first Pac-12 Championships, scheduled for March 24.
Hosting that event and the NCAA Regional Championships on April 7 have added even more interest in the Utes.
Utah already has sold more than 6,200 season tickets and 4,500 tickets for the Pac-12 Championships.
The last thing the Utes want to do is put forth a mediocre season that would leave fans disappointed.
Luckily, the Utes should have a team strong enough to live up to expectations. After a surprising fifth-place showing last year, the Utes believe they can contend for top spots in the league and nationally.
They are young with 11 of the 15 gymnasts freshmen or sophomores but they are good.
"We have a lot more depth," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "Like last year's freshman class, this one came in determined they want to compete and contribute, so they've worked hard."
Seniors Cortni Beers, Stephanie McAllister and Kyndal Robarts all have been solid in the preseason while Lothrop has continued to improve, and freshman Georgia Dabritz could be the biggest contributor out of the rookies.
"We're not shying away from expectations," Marsden said. "We think we have a chance to succeed. More often than not, if somebody beats us, they have to be better than us; we're not going to beat ourselves.
"As I've said, this team is deeper and better than we were a year ago when we finished fifth, so who knows?"
The Utes will get a good idea where they stand thanks to a schedule highlighted not only by meets against Pac-12 opponents in UCLA, ASU, Stanford and Oregon State, but also against No. 9 Georgia, No. 10 Michigan and No. 3 Florida.
Out of the Pac-12 teams, Marsden believes the Bruins, Stanford and Oregon State are the Utes' biggest challengers for the league title.
"Those teams have been on top the last couple years," he said. "Washington has been coming on and Arizona is a better team this year, too, and ASU had a lot of injuries last year, so it's going to be a challenge."
A challenge with which the Utes are quite familiar.
Utah's 2012 schedule
Date Opponent Time
Sunday at UCLA 3 p.m.
Jan. 14 vs. Utah State 7 p.m.
Jan. 27 vs. BYU 7 p.m.
Feb. 3 vs. Georgia 7 p.m.
Feb. 12 at ASU 2 p.m.
Feb. 17 at Michigan 5 p.m.
Feb. 24 vs. Stanford 7 p.m.
March 2 vs. Oregon State 7 p.m.
March 9 vs. Nebraska 7 p.m.
March 16 at Florida 5 p.m.
March 24 Pac-12 champ. 2/7 p.m.
April 7 NCAA Regionals 6 p.m.
April 20-22 NCAAs, Duluth, Ga.
Utah against Pac-12 teams
Program Utes' record
Arizona St. 60-16-1
Oregon St. 56-7
Preseason Top 25 poll
Team Pts 1sts
No. 1 UCLA 932 8
No. 2 Alabama 926 17
No. 3 Florida 903 8
No. 4 Oklahoma 879 2
No. 5 Utah 806 1
No. 6 Nebraska 741 0
No. 7 Oregon St. 725 1
No. 8 Stanford 702 1
No. 9 Georgia 687 0
No. 10 Michigan 641 2
No. 11 Arkansas 617 0
No. 12 LSU 539 0
No. 13 Penn St. 496 0
No. 14 Boise State 449 0
No. 15 Illinois 371 0
No. 16 Washington 343 0
No. 17 Auburn 324 0
No. 18 Ohio State 246 0
No. 19 Arizona 233 0
No. 20 Denver 214 0
No. 21 Kent State 202 0
No. 22 Minnesota 154 0
No. 23 Kentucky 144 0
No. 24 Iowa State 122 0
No. 25 Iowa 120 0