Utah gymnastics: Utes wrap regular season with stiff road test

First Published      Last Updated May 22 2017 03:05 pm

Utah gymnastics » Georgia is 11-3 at home against Utah.

The Utah's gymnastics team has enjoyed what it knows over the last nine weeks, either competing at home or in the familiar Pac-12.

The Utes are stepping outside that comfort zone for their regular-season finale.

Fifth-ranked Utah travels to No. 7 Georgia for a 2 p.m. MST meet Saturday that will be televised by the SEC Network+.

Georgia has been one of Utah's biggest rivals for more than 25 years and has proved very difficult to beat at home, where the Gymdogs lead the series 11-3 and have won the last two meetings.

Utah coach Megan Marsden believes this meet will be just as tough as recent showdowns. The Utes are coming off a 197.5-196.275 win against Stanford in which freshman MyKayla Skinner and senior Baely Rowe provided several highlights.

But Marsden said there's plenty of room for improvement, noting the Utes scored 49.3 on the bars and just 49.1 on the balance beam.

"We have to stick on bars and beam like we did on floor and vault," Marsden said. "Georgia is a really tough team and went toe to toe with [No. 6] Alabama, so we know we have to be great this weekend."

Utah has been strong on both in recent weeks, but the small faults are magnified in the postseason, when every little mistake separates similarly talented teams.

Marsden feels Saturday's meet will be a preview of those competitions, especially since Georgia competes in the SEC, which has four teams ranked in the top 10.

"Difficult competition outside of our conference lets us see what we are up against," she said. "Georgia is hitting their stride, so we have to be good on all four events. We have to be stellar to beat them on their own floor."

The Utes' only loss came at Oregon State on Feb. 11. They have scored 197.5 or higher in the last three meets since the loss, giving Utah a lot of confidence.

"It's their senior night and they always have a good crowd," junior Tiffani Lewis said. "But we have been good under pressure. I don't think there is anything we can't handle. We have gone up against some very good teams and challenging situations with injuries and other adversity, but there isn't anything this team can't handle."

If anything, Lewis said she and her teammates are looking forward to seeing how they measure up.

"Getting out of our comfort zone right before the Pac-12s is a good test," she said. "We aren't sacrificing our main goal with this meet, but it gives the freshmen and sophomores a good idea of what to expect."



No. 5 Utah at No. 7 Georgia

at Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.

When » 2 p.m. MST Saturday

Records » Utah (10-1), Georgia (6-6)

Series » Georgia leads 27-25-1

Last meeting » Utah won 197.675-197.125 on March 12, 2016

Of note » Utah freshman MyKayla Skinner can become Utah’s first gymnast to go undefeated in the all-around in the regular season with a win. … Georgia and Utah are tied with 10 national titles apiece. … Georgia is 4-1 at home with the only loss being to No. 6 Alabama, 197.7-197.325 on Sunday. … Freshman Rachel Dickson has the Gymdogs’ best all-around score (39.525) and sophomore Sydney Snead has nine wins.