Gymnastics: Utes in need of a challenge

This is an archived article that was published on in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah gymnastics coach Greg Marsden doesn't want his gymnasts to forget that while they've been putting up big scores lately, so have several other teams around the country.

During the last few days, top-ranked Georgia beat No. 7 UCLA 197.725-196.125, No. 9 Oregon State scored a 197.5 in a tri-meet win and No. 5 Florida came close to breaking the 197 mark with a 196.825-196.325 win over No. 14 Michigan.

Seeing scores like those being posted makes Marsden happy the Gators are coming to town for a meet on Friday. He doesn't want his team to get complacent.

"I do feel we need to be challenged and not feel like we're competing against ourselves," he said.

The Gators, who have beaten Utah in the last three regular-season meetings, are the highest-ranked team to compete in the Huntsman Center since the Utes opened the season against then-No. 4 UCLA on Jan. 9. Utah hasn't competed against another high-ranking opponent since losing at Georgia on Jan. 19, when Utah was No. 3 and Georgia was No. 4.

The Utes finish the regular season March 20 at BYU, which has lost five gymnasts with season-ending injuries.

"Obviously they're struggling and really beat up so we probably won't get it there," he said of a challenging meet.

Record pace

The Utes, who are averaging an NCAA-best 13,616 fans for their home meets, need a crowd of just 10,910 Friday against Florida to break the NCAA single-season attendance record of 13,164 set in 1993. The Utes have led the nation in attendance since 2005, averaging 12,029 fans from 2005-08.

Marsden attributed the increase this season to several factors, including Utah's success, good weather on meet nights, and the Utes' having hosted the national championships in 2007.

In the rankings

Kristina Baskett is No. 2 in the all-around (39.54), tied for third in the vault (9.925) and second on the bars (9.92). Daria Bijak is eighth on the bars (9.89)

SUU is No. 31 (194.55), Utah State is No. 47 (192.34) and BYU is No. 52 (191.015).