Freshman fights pain to lead Utes
IN SHORT: The fourth-ranked Utes were hardly mistake-free, but easily defeated No. 18 Washington for their sixth straight win over the Huskies.
KEY MOMENT: Kristina Baskett showed a dislocated finger wasn't going to keep her out of the lineup as she scored a 9.85 on the uneven bars.
KEY STAT: Utah scored a 49.325 on the vault, with scores of 9.825 or better.
SEATTLE - Freshman gymnast Kristina Baskett wanted to put on a good show for her family and friends who came to see her compete with the Utes against Washington Friday.
Say this much for the rookie: She made the return to her home state dramatic.
Baskett dislocated a finger on her right hand during the warmups on the vault. The injury was so painful she almost lost her pre-meet meal. Utah coach Greg Marsden left it up to her to decide if she wanted to compete or not.
Sitting out wasn't an option for Baskett, who taped her finger in place then helped the Utes stick it to Washington 195.625-193.325.
Baskett scored a 9.85 on the bars, a 9.9 on the vault and a 9.775 on the floor. Baskett dislocated the middle finger again during the meet.
"It's pretty sore," she said. "I was dizzy and couldn't hear when I did it, but I'm happy how things turned out."
Even in Utah red, Baskett was a crowd favorite, drawing some of the biggest cheers of the night.
"I wanted to come back and have a good meet," Baskett said. "It was just fun to be able to compete in front of my friends."
Marsden considered using Baskett in the all-around, but decided not to because she didn't have a good week of practice on the balance beam.
He regretted his decision afterward, when Utah had two falls on the event and Baskett scored a 9.9 competing in exhibition.
"Girl coming home, I should have let her do it," he said. "But hindsight is 20-20. I thought others deserved the opportunity, and I wanted to make a point that she has to earn that right. In club, you pay your entry and you compete in everything. In college, it's a decision based on your performance. But if I had to do it over again, yeah she'd compete."
Both Gabi Onodi and Kristen Riffanacht fell to start Utah's rotation on the balance beam, scoring 9.075 and 9.25, respectively. Their mistakes put Nina Kim into a pressure situation in which she is becoming familiar with in her freshman year. A week ago at UCLA, Kim was the next up after Katie Kivisto and Ashley Postell fell on the uneven bars. She scored a 9.725 to save the meet for the Utes.
Friday's situation wasn't quite as critical since the Utes had a 147.2-144.75 advantage going into the final rotation, but Kim still delivered, scoring a 9.725.
For her, the beam performance salvaged her night after she fell twice on floor and scored just 8.675.
"We're a team, we help each other out," Kim said. "Sometimes you have a bad event and someone is there to help you out."
Gritt Hofmann and Nicolle Ford followed Kim on the beam, both scoring 9.85. Ashley Postell finished off the night for the Utes with a 9.875.
"That is the second meet in a row Nina has been in a bad situation," Marsden said. "She is handling it well. That was an uncharacteristic fall for Gabi, she's usually very dependable."
Marsden stopped short of saying Baskett would compete in the all-around when Utah plays host to Nebraska in the season opener Friday, but he said she is making it hard to leave her out.
"She's showing she is a competitor," he said. "One thing we're learning about her is she's better in competition than she is in practice."
Baskett also scored a 9.65 on the beam in exhibition in the season opener.
"I'm working hard," she said. "I hope this will boost me up a little bit."