Because of the pounding and repetitive stress on joints gymnasts experience, recovery time is crucial for gymnasts to make it through a season successfully. But rest is going to be a rare thing for Utah's gymnasts in the next week as they compete three times in a week, accounting for nearly a fourth of their schedule.
The Utes' hectic week starts tonight at home against in-state rivals SUU and BYU in addition to Texas Woman's University. On Monday they travel to Utah State and finish the stretch at Nebraska a week from today.
Utah ended up with the unusual schedule because the post-season starts a week earlier than normal this year so coach Greg Marsden had to double up on a weekend to get 12 competitions on the calendar. In the end, the Utes wound up with an extra bye week because the series with Minnesota was dropped after it was too late to move the Utah State meet.
The Utes know their bodies are going to be tired and down time is going to be scarce, but they say they're going to make the best of the unique situation.
"I've never done anything like this, not even close," senior Kristina Baskett said. "But it's probably the closest we can get to being what we'll go through at nationals so hopefully it will get us mentally and physically prepared for that."
Utah moved up to No. 1 in the national rankings this week, the first time the Utes have been No. 1 since 2005. While the Utes would like to prove they deserve that ranking in the stretch of competitions, Marsden isn't too concerned that he's willing to take chances with his gymnasts. He may rest some if necessary, most likely against Utah State on Monday. He's already planning lighter training days for next week too.
"I don't want to be so concerned about the ranking," he said. "It's nothing to be No. 1 if you're stupid. Of course we'd like to maintain that, but we can't be overly concerned about the rankings."
Beating their rivals tonight at home is a priority of course, but so is performing well at Nebraska a week from now, Baskett said. Nebraska is hosting the NCAA Championships in April and performing well there at the end of the busy week could do as much for the Utes mentally as any ranking, she said.
"That is going to be an easy meet to get up for," she said. "We know we're going to be pushing ourselves but it's going to be a good test for us."
A good test and a tiring one.
Start » 7 p.m.
Live scoring » www.utahutes.com
Records » Utah (3-1); BYU (0-5-1); SUU (3-2); Texas Woman's (1-3)
Elsewhere » Utah State vs. Cal State Fullerton, 7 p.m.
About the Utes » Utah has never lost at home to BYU or SUU and is 49-0 at home against the teams combined. Utah is the nation's top-ranked vaulting team with a 49.3 average. Tonight's meet is being promoted as Daddy-Daughter night. Dads who register at utahutes.com can get coupons for free tickets.
About the opponents » Rashonda Cannie is the only all-arounder for TWU and has a 38.65 average. BYU hasn't competed since scoring a season high 190.65 in a loss to San Jose State. Danielle Goldman (37.825) is the Cougars only all-arounder. SUU's Elise Wheeler (39.325 high) has won the all-around in all four meets this season.