Gymnastics: Utes avoid embarrassing loss to BYU

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It's one thing for Utah's football or basketball teams to lose to BYU. Those rivalries have almost always been competitive affairs over the seasons and BYU victories, as much as Utah fans hate them, aren't surprising.

But lose a gymnastics meet to the Cougars? That is supposed to be a virtual impossibility for Utah's proud program, particularly in recent seasons when BYU's program has fallen behind the likes of SUU and Utah State while the Utes have maintained their national contender status.

The impossible almost happened though Friday as Utah (6-2) escaped the Marriott Center with a 195.925-194.375 win over BYU (2-8).

The Utes, who have won 27 straight against the Cougars dating back to the 1998 season, nearly gave the meet away on the final rotation.

Utah led BYU 147.425-146.4 going into the final event, but the comfortable margin dissipated when Utah's Stephanie McAllister fell as the first up on the balance beam and BYU started posting strong floor scores.

Things got even more dire for the Utes when Annie DiLuzio suffered her first fall of the year and scored just 9.2. Jamie Deetscreek, a veteran who had her worst meet of her career a week ago in the Utes' 195.725-195.1 loss at Michigan, came up big for the Utes Friday earning a season high 9.925 on the beam.

Senior Daria Bijak fought through her routine, windmilling her arms a couple times but stayed on to score a 9.75 and Kyndal Robarts scored a 9.875.

If any of the final three had fallen, the Cougars might have had their biggest upset in the Utah-BYU rivalry in decades for any sports.

Granted the Utes are struggling this season, but they're still ranked No. 9 in the country. BYU, by comparison, has only been victorious against Utah State, a program in the midst of a serious overhaul under new coach Jeff Richards.

Never, even with injuries that kept Beth Rizzo (toe), Gael Mackie (ankle) and Katelyn Mohr (back) out of the meet or Utah's recent struggles did a BYU win Friday seem much of a possibility up until that final rotation.

"Other than Jamie, we competed scared," Utah coach Greg Marsden said of the balance beam performance. "We tried to stay on the balance beam and we needed them to approach it like Jamie did who went out and attacked it and did what she is capable of doing. Others were affected by what happened before them."

The deciding margin made the meet seem more decisive than it was because BYU had its own problems in its final rotation with Jessica Villegas (9.0) and Madeleine Johnson (8.925) falling after it started the floor order with scores of 9.725 and 9.775.

Utah finished with a 48.55 on the beam while BYU recorded a 47.975 on the floor.

"We had three good events and one, we just made some mistakes," BYU coach Brad Cattermole said. "But we are moving in the right direction. For Madeline, some are going to say that was because it was Utah and that kind of thing but it wasn't, that was a weird one and she was surprised as anyone."

Except for the beam performance, Marsden was overall satisfied.

"Other than two falls on beam I thought we did a better job tonight," he said. "Obviously we had people out of the lineup and new people in and I was happy with the job they did."

Individual winners

All-around » Kyndal Robarts (Utah) 39.375

Vault » Kyndal Robarts (Utah) and Annie DiLuzio (Utah) 9.9

Uneven bars » Daria Bijak (Utah) 9.9

Balance beam » Jamie Deetscreek (Utah) 9.925

Floor » Annie DiLuzio (Utah) 9.9

How it unfolded

First rotation » Utah 49.0, BYU 48.975

Second rotation » Utah 98.3, BYU 97.7

Third rotation » Utah 147.425, 146.4

Fourth rotation » Utah 195.925, 194.375

In short

The Utes beat BYU for their 27th win over the Cougars, but the meet was much closer than expected thanks to Utah's falls on beam.