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Utah gymnastics: Utes refuse to allow injuries to derail hunt for title

Published January 31, 2017 1:14 pm

Utah gymnastics notes • Utes keep their hold on No. 4 in the national rankings.
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Utah's gymnastics team might be down two athletes, but the Utes insist they aren't out of the NCAA title battle.

Fourth-ranked Utah, which hosts No. 15 Cal at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, believes it can make up for the loss of freshman Kim Tessen, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in warmups before Utah's 197.15-196.25 win at Washington on Saturday.

All-around standout Sabrina Schwab suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.

Utah coach Megan Marsden said the coaches have discussed alternative lineups as well as how to manage the team going forward. What hasn't changed is the goal, she said.

"We are still very much in the hunt," she said. "As a coaching staff, we still feel like it is an incredible gymnastics team and we have some depth, but obviously it changes some things on some levels — our strategy for how we put lineups together and routines."

Marsden said the Utes may take out some of the more difficult tumbling and use a variety of lineups to make sure the team is as strong as possible by the end of the season.

"We can still have 10.0 start values and you can still win," she said. "The last couple years the teams that have been winning don't have a lot of 'E' tumbling passes. It is the consistency. We have to be careful there isn't too much pounding on them week in and week out."

Utah senior Baely Rowe said she and her teammates remain determined, despite the injuries.

"It's going to bring us closer together," she said. "We are just going through some things you can't control, but we have a lot of passion."

Utah could improve its floor depth soon. Kari Lee, who tore her Achilles tendon last season, is almost at the point where she could return to the floor lineup, Marsden said.

Lee started tumbling last week.

"We have options right now, so she is really in the seventh spot," Marsden said. "But we know what we get with her, so she doesn't need the experience of being out there. If we decide to use her, she'll be ready. Right now it's like she is tugging on our sleeve, asking 'When do I get to do it.'"

Finding her groove

Rowe attributed her second straight win on the uneven bars Saturday with some added practice that not only has improved her confidence but also her swing. She is ranked 14th on the event with a 9.875.

"I've been really working on the swing," she said. "I'm really confident, and it is showing up. Now I just go out there and do another routine."

In the rankings

The Utes remained in fourth with a 197.075 average while Oklahoma (197.781), LSU (197.588) and Florida (197.431) maintained the top spots. Southern Utah is tied for 11th with Missouri and Boise State with a 195.975 average. MyKayla Skinner is tied for second in the all-around with LSU's Kennedi Edney with a 39.625 average, and Rowe (39.563 ) is fourth.

Skinner is also sixth in the vault (9.912), fourth in the beam (9.894) and fourth on the floor (9.938). Rowe is second in the beam (9.9). —

Top 25 rankings

1. Oklahoma 197.781

2. LSU 197.588

3. Florida 197.431

4. Utah 197.075

5. UCLA 196.617

6. Alabama 196.44

7. Michigan 196.381

8. Denver 196.25

9. Georgia 196.115

10. Kentucky 196.035

t-11. Southern Utah 195.975

t-11. Boise State 195.975

t-11. Missouri 195.975

14. Oregon State 195.925

15. California 195.8

16. George Wash. 195.731

17. Auburn 195.645

18. Washington 195.6

19. Ohio State 195.538

20. Nebraska 195.517

21. Illinois 195.256

22. Iowa 195.245

23. Minnesota 195.075

24. Arkansas 195.038

25. West Virginia 195.031






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