Tidd, a three-year member of the U.S. National Team, was expected to compete in the all-around but has been limited with back spasms that started just before Christmas.
"I don't do everything in practice, my numbers are down, but I'm getting back into it," the sophomore said. "Hopefully I can get back into the lineup on beam and floor soon."
Judging by Friday's meet, Utah has plenty of all-around talent with Annabeth Eberle and Ashley Postell getting 39.625s and Nicolle Ford finishing with a 39.475, but Utah coach Greg Marsden badly wants Tidd in all four events, too.
"We need her on the other two events. She was almost perfect on the two she did," he said. "We have a great 1-2 punch and Niki is right there with them, but I feel like we could have a 1-2-3-4 punch."
As frustrating as the back spasms have been for Tidd, at least she is getting to compete. Tidd had a great freshman year and won the vault championship at regionals, but didn't participate in the NCAA Championships after she was diagnosed with mononucleosis.
"At one time we didn't even know if she was going to compete tonight," Marsden said. "But we decided it was better to start slow and finish strong than start strong and not be at nationals like last year."
Ford finished tied for fifth in the all-around with a 39.475. However, she was upset with herself for opening with a 9.8 on vault and a 9.85 on the bars.
"I was short on the vault landing and the same with the bars," she said. "I don't know if anyone could tell, but by the time I got to beam I was pretty mad."
Apparently anger for her is a good thing, she delivered a 9.925 on the beam and a 9.9 on floor. Sign of things to come
In a mock meet on Wednesday, Utah hit 23 of its 24 routines. The only one who had trouble was Gritt Hoffman, who fell off the beam. She was the only one to fall on Friday too, coming off the beam and scoring a 9.35. Career highs
Hoffman had trouble on the beam, but she delivered a 9.875 on the vault, a new career high. Her vault followed Gabriella Onodi's 9.75, which was the junior's first vault in competition.
Attendance for Friday's meet, 10,064, is the highest home attendance for any Utah event other than football this season. The season high for men's basketball so far was 10,057 for a Dec. 28 game against Weber State. The men's basketball team is averaging 9,511 fans.
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Utah allows its opponents to pick two judges, then pairs one of those with one of its own, with the theory they'll balance each other out in scores, making the meets as fair as possible. However, because of an assignment glitch, Utah's two judges were paired together as were UCLA's for the first two events, uneven bars and vault.
The error was corrected for the last two events.
Carrying the title of two-time defending champs doesn't seem to affect the Bruins, according to 2000 Olympian Kristen Maloney.
"Every year it's a completely different team with chemistry and the people on the team," she said. "It's hard to compare one year to another."