Friday night featured the nation's top-ranked bar workers in Utah's Rachel Tidd and Michigan's Elise Ray, ranked No 1 and No. 2, respectively.
Ray had won the event in her last six competitions but had to settle for a tie with Tidd for first Friday. Both scored 9.95s, which tied Tidd's career best and was a season high for Ray.
Ray has scored 9.9 or better on the bars in her last 15 competitions, but said she didn't realize she was going up against her top competitor until afterward.
"That was my first event and I just did my thing," Ray said. "To be honest, I just sort of compete with myself."
Friday's meet was the first time Tidd competed in the all-around, and she finished tied for fourth with teammate Nicolle Ford with a 39.275.
In addition to her bar score, Tidd had a 9.825 on the floor and 9.75s on the vault and balance beam. Her vault score was a season low for her, thanks to some steps on her dismount, but overall Tidd was pleased with her performance.
"Going in the all-around puts more pressure on you," Tidd said. "I was more pumped up and ready to go, but you just have to take each event at a time and not let much else go through your mind."
In place of
Kristen Riffanacht was held out of the meet with a hamstring strain. Her absence on the floor made room for Tidd on the floor. On the beam, Tidd and Gabriella Onodi competed in place of Riffanacht and Gritt Hofmann. Onodi had a 9.775.
Hofmann was taken out of the beam lineup because she was struggling with her passes, but she had a great meet in the events she did compete, scoring a career high 9.875 on the vault and tying her season high on the floor with a 9.925.
Her vault score was the most rewarding, because she switched from a tuck, worth a 9.9, to a pike, worth 10.0, this year.
"It may not look as hard, but it's harder," she said. "You can't have a bad day and still make it. I have to give it 100 percent of my focus."
In the stands
Utah signee Kristina Baskett, from Normandy Park, Wash., came to Salt Lake City to watch the meet since she had Friday off from school.
Baskett, who placed 18th in the 2002 USA Championships, hadn't seen a meet at Utah before.
"I'd heard about it," she said of the atmosphere. "But it is even better in person. I can't wait to compete here."
Watching from afar
Utah coach Greg Marsden always watches his team's balance beam series from the tunnel, but not because he is afraid to see what might happen.
"I like to get out of the way and have the fans focus on the team and not me," he said. "That is [associate head coach Megan Marsden's] event. The only reason I help on the bars is because Aki [Hummel] makes me slide the mats. I don't want to be part of the show."
This and that
Annabeth Eberle and Ford both had season highs 9.925 on the uneven bars . . . For the first time this year, Ford competed three layouts and a front tuck on the balance beam. She had a solid routine going until she stepped out on her landing and scored a 9.7.