U. gymnasts trample Michigan
Utah's third-ranked gymnastics team got the statement win it wanted Saturday, defeating No. 4 Michigan 197.425-196.325, spoiling the Wolverines' senior night and ending their hopes of a perfect season.
It was the first loss at home for Michigan (18-1) since losing to Missouri on March 16, 2007.
Utah's total was its third highest of the season, and the win perhaps was its biggest of 2008 considering the Utes (11-1) were coming off a loss at Florida a week ago and were competing on the road.
"I'm so pleased with this team. They've handled every situation they've faced with confidence and aggressiveness," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "I couldn't ask anything more of them."
It was just the second time Utah has won at Michigan, improving its record in Crisler Arena to 2-5, a building in which the Utes have struggled to compete well in the past.
"We talked about how we were jumping from the frying pan into the fire with this meet," Marsden said. "The team knew how tough it would be to compete at Michigan, on their senior night, against a team that is going to be there at the championships."
Utah's Ashley Postell won every event except the uneven bars en route to her eighth all-around title of the season, scoring a 39.7.
The senior scored 9.95s on the vault and balance beam and 9.9s on the bars and floor.
Unlike last week, when the Utes couldn't come from behind to beat the Gators, the Utes never trailed at Michigan, opening with a season-high 49.4 on the uneven bars.
Nina Kim, competing on the uneven bars for the first time in five meets, got the Utes going with a season-high 9.85.
It was just the kind of opening routine the Utes needed, and her teammates responded by scoring other high marks, including 9.9s from Daria Bijak and Postell and a 9.925 from Kristina Baskett.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines were struggling on vault, one of their weakest events, scoring a 49.2 after their final competitor fell.
"Before the meet, we talked about how important it was to keep improving, and the team understood and did that," Marsden said.
Utah's uneven bars performance carried right into the vault, where it scored a 49.425, tying its fourth-highest mark of the season.
With the three gymnasts going before her earning 9.875s, Postell finally got the judges to break out of the 9.8s and finished the rotation with a 9.95.
The Utes extended their lead on the floor with all gymnasts earning a 9.825 or higher for a team score of 49.275. The floor lineup didn't include Baskett, who was pulled at the last minute because her foot started hurting her.
She was replaced by Kim who scored a 9.825 in her first floor routine in five meets.
Maybe feeling the pressure the Utes were putting on them, the Wolverines struggled on the balance beam with their final two gymnasts falling.
The Wolverines scored just 48.6, giving the Utes a 0.975 lead going into the final rotation.
The Utes added an exclamation point on their win with a 49.325 on the balance beam, which tied their season high.