Utah gymnastics: Utes are rested, ready to get tested
Utah's gymnastics team spent its bye week focusing on conditioning and healing various aches and pains. Now the Utes have to get their focus back, and quickly.
The second-ranked Utes are heading into their toughest stretch of the season starting Friday, when they host No. 7 Oregon State.
Following that meet are road competitions at No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Michigan.
The time off allowed injured gymnasts such as Nina Kim (foot), Stephanie Neff (strained Achilles) and Kyndal Robarts (sprained MCL) to get better, but coach Greg Marsden hopes the tradeoff for rest isn't a team that isn't as sharp as it once was.
"Hopefully we didn't lose our momentum and our edge," he said. "We took advantage of our week off and helped our injuries, but there is no question we took a mental break too and now we have to get back to the rhythm of having meets every week."
When Neff injured her Achilles on Feb. 7 the Utes thought she might be out until the postseason. However, the sophomore is recovering quickly and might be available to do floor on Friday. Kim and Robarts might also be available, although Marsden said he'll wait until later this week to make decisions about his lineup.
The one gymnast who wasn't much better than she was last week was Daria Bijak, who has had the flu.
The biggest national news of the weekend was of Georgia's Courtney Kupets, who tore her Achilles tendon Saturday during her floor routine.
Kupets, a junior, had surgery Monday and will miss the remainder of the season, meaning an anticipated showdown between Kupets and Ashley Postell at the NCAA Championships for the all-around title can't happen.
Postell has finished second to Kupets the last two seasons in the all-around. In 2006 Kupets tied Kristina Baskett for the uneven bars national title and also has won national titles on the balance beam and vault.
"She is one of those special gymnasts like Ashley, Alabama's Terin Humphrey and others who have really helped the image of collegiate gymnastics," Marsden said. "It's unfortunate to happen to her."
Not having Kupets will hurt Georgia, but Marsden said it won't make it impossible for it to win the national title.
"They are deep and talented and they've demonstrated they are a team that thrives on this type of adversity, they're still going to be great," Marsden said.
In the rankings
Georgia remained at No. 1 followed by Utah, Florida and Michigan. LSU jumped from eighth to No. 5. After a two-week absence, SUU is back in the rankings at No. 23. Minnesota also is back in while Ohio State and Illinois-Champaign fell out.
Individually, Postell remains No. 1 in the all-around (39.62), first on the balance beam (9.915), tied for second on the floor (9.92), third in the vault (9.94) and ninth on the uneven bars (9.88). Baskett is No. 8 in the all-around (39.375), fourth on the bars (9.91) and ninth in the vault (9.9).