Utes believe they've turned the corner

Gymnastics notes » Close battle with Nebraska forces gymnasts to abandon cautious approach.
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Having to battle back to beat Nebraska on the last event Friday might have been just what the No. 9 Utes needed to get their season going in the right direction.

Utah's gymnasts haven't had much confidence lately and admitted they were competing to stay on events, not competing to be aggressive, prior to the matchup with the Huskers.

Their outlook changed Friday. Senior Daria Bijak gathered the team around and implored her teammates to have fun and not worry about mistakes while fellow senior Annie DiLuzio said the team's focus was better.

Now they feel like they understand what they need to do to be successful, which isn't something they were saying just a few weeks ago.

"It's huge motivation for us," Bijak said. "We've come into the gym on Mondays wondering what we have to work on or change. Right now, we are so motivated to work harder because we see we can be successful."

It's a good time for the Utes (7-2) to have that competitive edge, considering they have one of their most difficult challenges this week.

The Utes host No. 8 Oregon State (10-2), No. 18 Penn State (13-4) and No. 21 SUU (7-2) in a quad meet Friday. The Beavers have been one of the most consistent teams in the nation this season and should be an even bigger threat to the Utes.

"Last week was a big step forward now we just have to build on it," junior Kyndal Robarts said.

Utah co-coach Megan Marsden said she has noticed a difference in her team, too.

"I liked seeing the fight," she said of her team's 196.575-195.725 comeback win. "I saw the fight I saw at the Georgia meet when it was tight. When we went to floor I thought we had some people step up with nice performances and that was nice to see."

In the rankings

The Utes remain at No. 9. Robarts (9.92) is tied for fifth on the vault, DiLuzio (9.91) is tied for fifth on the floor. Bijak is the highest ranked all-around competitor for the Utes at No. 13 (39.335).

DiLuzio has six wins on floor this season, a successful run she attributed to her outlook on the event.

"I'm having fun with it this year," the senior said. "I'm trying to enjoy the moment because I don't have too many left."

Injury report

The Utes hope Gael Mackie (ankle) can compete on the uneven bars while freshman Katelyn Mohr (back) and senior Beth Rizzo (toe) remain questionable. Bijak missed Monday's practice due to illness but is expected to compete.


Gymnastics rankings

Ranking, Team RQS

1. Alabama 197.155

2. Oklahoma 196.92

3. UCLA 196.9

4. Florida 196.685

5. Georgia 196.615

6. Stanford 196.45

7. Arkansas 196.375

8. Oregon State 196.355

9. Utah 196.22

10. LSU 196.11

Others18. Penn State 195.39

21. SUU 194.96

Oregon St., Penn St., SUU at Utah

Friday, 7 p.m.,