Utah gymnastics: Fall from grace
Athens, Ga. » Utah senior Nina Kim didn't need many descriptive words to describe No. 3 Utah's 197.150-196.725 loss to No. 4 Georgia on Monday, summing up the effort with "losing sucks."
Given that general feeling, the Utes did their best to focus on the many positives rather than the negative outcome of the contest with their biggest rival in front of 8,731 at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Utes (1-1) earned a higher score than they did in their season-opening win against UCLA, didn't have to count a fall and did well enough to be tied with Georgia (3-0) going into the final rotation.
Scoring higher on the balance beam than a home team on its floor is a near-impossible feat, so no one was surprised when Georgia emerged the victor when all was said and done.
Georgia scored a 49.375 on the floor while the Utes earned a 48.95 on the balance beam to close the meet.
Utah's beam rotation started with a fall by Gael Mackie, who received a 9.175. That mistake put the Utes' under more pressure, but Utah coach Greg Marsden was pleased to see everyone who followed responded to the situation well by scoring 9.7 or higher.
The efforts simply weren't good enough to catch Georgia. Marsden also believed Utah's beam scores were a little harsher than they should have been, although he didn't think it was enough to change the outcome.
"I knew what it was going to be like coming in here, and you try to prepare yourself to focus only on what you can control," he said. "Those things are, did we do better this week than last week? Yes. Did we handle a difficult situation? Yes, absolutely. On bars and beam, we dug ourselves a hole right off the bat and we fought all the way through and didn't let the meet get away from us. The positives far outweigh the negatives."
Even so, the Utes were hoping to win at Georgia, a place the Utes haven't won in their last two outings. Instead they had to be happy with the way they fought back after the opening fall on beam and another on the bars where freshman Stephanie McAllister was given the difficult task of leading off the team.
She fell, but everyone else scored 9.85 or higher.
The Utes scored a 49.075 on the vault, then rallied with a 49.3 on floor to put themselves into a tie with the Gym Dogs going into the final rotation.
"We hate losing, we love to win," Kim said. "But we came in here knowing it was going to be hard. We got down on ourselves a little after vault but we talked to each other and we got pissed and did our job."
The Utes at least didn't let things fall apart like they did the last time they were here. In 2007 Utah lost 196.85-195.475 in one of the Utah's worst road losses.
"We stunk up the place then and it took us a long time to crawl back out of that hole," Marsden said. "This was the antithesis of that. We came in here and gave them a run for their money."
Marsden had hoped to give his coaching rival Suzanne Yoculan a loss as a retirement present. With Georgia's fans cheering the victory, he acknowledged he might still have a chance to deliver that gift, at the NCAA Championships in April.
"If this will help us get better April, I'll take it," he said.
In brief » Utah suffers its first loss of the season to the four-time defending champion after going into the final rotation tied.
Key moment » The Utes recovered from a fall on the balance beam but couldn't get the big scores needed.
Key stat » The Utes earned just a 48.95 on the beam after scoring a 49.025 on the event in the opener.
All-Around » Courtney Kupets (Georgia) » 39.6
Vault » Tiffany Tolnay (Georgia) » 9.9
Uneven Bars » Courtney Kupets (Georgia) » 9.975
Balance Beam » Grace Taylor (Georgia) » 9.9
Floor » Nina Kim (Utah), Annie DiLuzio (Utah) and Courtney Kupets (Georgia)» 9.9
Last five meetings:
2009 » L, 197.150-196.725
2008 » W, 196.300-196.2002007 » L, 196.850-195.475
2006 » L, 197.100-197.0752005 » L, 197.275-197.150