Utes lay claim to Nebraska
Lincoln, Neb. » During Nebraska's gymnastics meet against Utah on Friday, the Huskers' marketing department made several announcements and showed advertisements touting the NCAA Championships that will be held here in April.
Top-ranked Utah (8-1) did its own bit of advertising, offering a glimpse of the team to beat in those championships by taking down the No. 12 Huskers 196.525-195.725 in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Utes entered Friday's competition just 1-4 in Lincoln, having lost their last two meets here.
"Getting a win was good," said senior Nina Kim, who won the all-around with a 39.5. "But it was even more important to know we could come in here and handle the pressure."
The Utes haven't been able to handle that pressure so well in the past, and the fact that they did so Friday is another sign that this Utah team is better than recent versions.
Friday's showdown could have gone the way of the recent meets, particularly with Nebraska (4-2) coming off its best meet of the year, a 196.175-196 win over No. 7 Oklahoma, and the Utes missing some of their top gymnasts thanks to a schedule that had them competing for the third time in seven days.
Both Annie DiLuzio (foot) and Kyndal Robarts (shoulder) were held out of certain events because of soreness. However, just as in Monday's win at Utah State, others came through with big routines to make up for their absences.
"What I really like is we are doing good team gymnastics," said Utah coach Greg Marsden. "We made some mistakes but it didn't affect the psyche of the other competitors. Of course I'd like for us to quit making mistakes, but you have to accept the idea you can't be perfect every night."
The turning point in the meet came in the second rotation, where the Utes were on the vault and the Huskers were on the bars. Tied at 49.1 after the first rotation, Utah used a big vault score (49.25) and mistakes by Nebraska to seize the lead. The Huskers had two falls on the bars and scored just 48.4.
Utah had its own troubles with Gael Mackie falling on floor, but everyone else did well enough for the Utes to expand their lead after scoring a 49.15.
Utah led the Huskers 147.5-146.425 going into the final events. Such a big margin would take a huge effort from the Huskers and some Friday the 13th bad mojo for the Utes to change the outcome of the night.
It didn't happen, even after Kyndal Robarts started Utah's beam lineup with a fall. The rest of the team scored a 49.025 on the event, an effort that included a big wobble by Kristina Baskett (9.65) and a meet-high routine by Kim (9.925).
"I know it wasn't my best effort," Baskett said. "But it was good enough. That is how the meet was for us."
The win capped a busy but extremely satisfying week for the Utes as they soundly beat rival BYU, put up a high score (196.95) at Utah State with many top performers sitting out and won in a place that has been difficult for them to do so.
Utah's score wasn't as high Friday as in past meets, but Marsden wasn't worried about the mark itself since Nebraska was judged equally as tight.
"It's a tough place to compete and we were in a difficult situation with three meets in a row," he said. "We'll go home and sharpen up for Michigan."
In brief » Utah ends a two-meet losing streak to the Huskers in Lincoln with the win.
Key moment » The Huskers have two falls on the uneven bars, mistakes that allow the Utes to pull ahead for good.
Key stat » Utah gets the win despite scoring its lowest mark of the season since the season opener (196.175)
Vault » Nina Kim (Utah), Annie DiLuzio (Utah), Kristina Baskett (Utah) 9.875
Uneven bars » Kristina Baskett (Utah) 9.9
Balance beam » Nina Kim (Utah) 9.925
Floor » Tricia Woo (Nebraska) 9.9
All-Around » Nina Kim (Utah) 39.5