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The last time Daria Bijak came off the balance beam, a poor landing caused her to burst into tears of disappointment. On Friday, the junior was all smiles as Bijak finally hit the landing like she has wanted to do so all season long.
The judges rewarded her for her effort with a season-high 9.9 in Utah's 197.35-194.35 win over Arizona State in the Huntsman Center.
Against Michigan on Feb. 20, Bijak delivered a great routine, but couldn't finish it with a solid landing as she took a big step. The 9.85 she scored would have satisfied many gymnasts, but Bijak was disappointed because of the way the routine ended.
"I was getting frustrated because I was doing a good routine and it always seemed to come down to the dismount," she said. "It was like I should just do the dismount because nothing else mattered."
For Friday's meet, she changed her dismount from a tuck to a layout, which she hit much cleaner, allowing her to end another strong routine on a positive note.
"It was much better," she said.
Senior Nina Kim was scheduled to perform in the all-around, but was pulled from the floor lineup after feeling ill. The Utes didn't want to take a chance of Kim injuring herself, so freshman Stephanie McAllister went in her place and earned a 9.85.
"Steph stepped in and did a great job tonight," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "That is why we need those gymnasts to be ready, even when they aren't competing."
Kim scored 9.9s on the vault and beam and a 9.75 on the bars.
No room in lineup
Friday's meet marked the third in a row in which sophomore Jacquelyn Johnson didn't compete. Johnson, who earned a 9.775 on the floor at Utah State on Feb. 9, was expected to contribute on a regular basis on bars and floor this season.
However, she has had trouble breaking into the lineup because of the continued improvement of junior Jamie Deetscreek plus the return of Kyndal Robarts to the floor lineup.
"She is right there on several events," Marsden said. "She just isn't right there enough to replace some of the people ahead of her."
In the stands
With Friday's attendance at 14,453, the Utes are averaging 13,616 fans at home meets in 2009. That means the Utes need just 10,910 fans to show up for next week's final home meet against Florida to break the program's attendance mark. Utah averaged 13,164 fans in 1993. Friday's attendance was the 13th largest in NCAA history.
Annie DiLuzio had a career high of 9.95 on the vault and Kyndal Robarts tied her best of 9.9.
Following Baskett: the mtn. spent Friday shadowing Utah senior Kristina Baskett for an installment on its show "A Day in the Life of