Los Angeles • Utah's freshman gymnasts might have been the ones who pushed the team in the preseason, but on Sunday it was the elder gymnasts' chance to lead in the Utes' 196.075-196.025 loss to the top-ranked UCLA Bruins.
Senior Stephanie McAllister was second in the all-around with a 39.325, and sophomore Corrie Lothrop was third with a 39.275. UCLA's Samantha Peszek won the all-around with a 39.45.
McAllister capped off the Utes' floor rotation with a 9.875.
"We knew that we had to keep fighting in the meet," McAllister said. "We felt like if we seniors made it a point of that, it would catch on with the others too."
That McAllister was so strong in the season debut didn't surprise coach Greg Marsden.
"She picked up where she left off last year," he said. "That is why her nickname is 'Happy' she has a very happy personality in the gym and on the floor."
Perhaps the most encouraging performance from the returning gymnasts was senior Kyndal Robarts' 9.875 on the vault. She admitted before the meet that she still had some nerves during vaults because that is the event in which she tore her anterior cruciate ligament last year.
"It felt good to be out there again," Robarts said.
Streak is over • Sophomore Mary Beth Lofgren's fall off the balance beam was her first fall of her career, ending her streak of made routines at 41. The gymnast with the most made routines in a row now is sophomore Lia Del Priore, who has 25 made routines; she did not compete Sunday.
Good debut • Utah freshman Kailah Delaney, who was penciled in to compete on the vault and floor, competed only on the vault due to illness. Her score of 9.9 was the Utes' highest mark on the event.
Fellow freshman Georgia Dabritz won the balance beam with a 9.9.
"All of us were just excited to earn spots in the lineup," Dabritz said of the freshmen. "We didn't have any clue as to how close it was."