Utah's gymnastics team felt it had the talent to be one of the top teams in the country this year. Now it has the ranking that exemplifies that confidence.
Ranked No. 5 in the preseason, the Utes vaulted to No. 2 in the latest national rankings released Monday.
The Utes, who are on a bye this week, boast an average of 196.713 after their first two meets. Utah beat Utah State on Friday 197.4-191.925, breaking the 197 mark for the first time since 2009.
Nebraska is No. 1 with a 197.375 it scored in its opening meet.
Though the rankings are likely to change frequently in the coming weeks as teams settle into their seasons, the Utes feel they are a team that can be among the nation's leaders this year.
The Utes had a great preseason and feel they are more ahead in their training than they were at this point last year.
"I don't know if we can do much better," senior Kyndal Robarts said of Friday's victory. "As long as we keep doing what we're doing, we should be pretty good."
Of particular importance to coach Greg Marsden is the depth the Utes have in their lineups, particularly the floor.
Thanks to the powerful skills Utah's five-member rookie class has, the Utes have the kind of difficulty they need to bring in 9.9s or higher throughout the lineup.
On Friday, leadoff gymnast Becky Tutka scored a 9.875.
"Last year, Becky could have been last up for us," Marsden said. "When you start with that kind of routine, that is something you can build from there. It snowballs and goes up and up, and that is how you get scores like 197-something. We're strong all the way through."
Freshman Georgia Dabritz, who scored a 9.975, is ranked No. 1 on the event.
Early time, good time
Utah's bye comes early in the season, so the Utes aren't planning to back off too much in training, although Marsden isn't feeling any urge to push the team either.
The Utes are holding practice as usual this week, but will cut down on the reps they do.
"We want to stay in shape and come out of it strong and healthy and even more prepared to do the little things well," Marsden said of the bye.
Utah's 49.375 on the uneven bars against the Aggies validated the Utes' belief their 48.45 at UCLA was more of a fluke than an indicator of how that event will be for them this year, which is one of the reasons the they feel they can take advantage of the bye and not push too hard.
"We need to focus on stuck landings and fixing hops on floor, things like that," Marsden said.
Around the nation
Five of the top 15 teams in the rankings are from the Pac-12. â¦ Oregon State scored one of the biggest wins in the country by beating Oklahoma 196.525-195.975, breaking the Sooners' 32-match regular-season winning streak, which was the longest in the nation. â¦ UCLA's Vanessa Zamarripa, the 2010 NCAA vault champion who missed the 2011 season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, scored a 10.0 on the event Sunday in the Bruins' win over Cal. â¦ Arkansas' No. 3 ranking matches the highest in the program's history. The Razorbacks were No. 11 in the preseason.
Top 25 rankings
Ranking, Team Average
1. Nebraska 197.375
2. Utah 196.713
3. Arkansas 196.55
4. Oregon State 196.525
5. Alabama 196.475
6. Georgia 196.425
7. UCLA 196.375
8. Florida 196.1
9. Penn State 195.95
10. Oklahoma 195.925
11. Michigan 195.5
12. Ohio State 195.275
13. Arizona 195.15
14. Stanford 194.9
15. Illinois 194.725
16. Denver 194.463
17. Boise State 194.4
18. N.C. State 194.363
19. San Jose State 194.3
20. Auburn 194.288
21. West Virginia 194.263
22. Missouri 194.1
23. Maryland 194.038
24. Minnesota 193.938
25. LSU 193.763