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Utah renews one of its spicier rivalries this week when it travels to Georgia, but the Gym Dogs are still dealing with controversy over their meet with rival Alabama before they can turn their attention to the Utes.
On Friday, Alabama beat Georgia 197.025-196.175 in Athens, Georgia's fourth straight loss. Alabama coach Sarah Patterson complained afterward in a press release that her team was able to win despite an unexpected uneven bars setup.
Patterson said she received a memo from Georgia stating the meet would use freestanding bars instead of cable bars, the latter being more common now because they are sturdier and shake less.
Patterson said as a result of the memo her team trained on the freestanding bars "all week."
Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said she didn't know where the memo came from, because Georgia no longer includes an equipment list with the packet it sends to teams. In checking into the matter, Yoculan found out Alabama requested an equipment list on Wednesday and a secretary e-mailed it to the school, not realizing it was several years old and listed older mats as well as the old-style bars.
Yoculan is furious, believing Patterson intentionally used the mistake as a way of portraying Georgia as cheating, and pointed out that Alabama wouldn't have had a week to prepare on the bars since the e-mail wasn't sent until Wednesday.
Mark it down as the latest spat in a long-standing battle between the SEC coaches, which is why the two no longer compete outside of their conference schedules.
Utah coach Greg Marsden said he received an e-mail from Yoculan on Sunday reiterating cable bars would be used Friday.
"I'm not going to get in the middle of something between those two, but it wouldn't make much difference to us," Marsden said. "We don't have any [free-standing] bars anyway. We just go to the arenas and adjust to what they have when we get there."
No longer at the top
As expected, Utah lost its top ranking Monday, when the rankings switched to the regional qualifying scoring (RQS) system instead of the season average. The RQS uses six scores, throws out the high, then averages the rest, three of which must be road scores.
LSU is the new No. 1 team, followed by UCLA, Michigan and Utah.
BYU is 13th, SUU is 16th and Utah State is No. 25.
Individually, Utah's Ashley Postell is ranked No. 3 in the all-around and Annabeth Eberle is No. 10. Rachel Tidd is fourth on the uneven bars and Nicolle Ford is eighth.
Utah senior Gritt Hofmann is hoping to get back into the lineup for Friday's meet, at least on the floor, after sitting out the Nebraska meet.
Hofmann has been bothered by a sharp pain in her left wrist, and had a cortisone shot in it a week ago. However, the injection made it more sore, although it is feeling better now.
"It hurts when I do handstands," Hofmann said. "I hope I can at least do something Friday, if not all [her events]."
Where's the hitting coach
After opening the season with three straight scores above 195, BYU has scored in the 194 range in three of its last four outings, including Friday's 194.75-194.475 loss to Southern Utah.
"It's like a hitting slump in midseason, when a team does really well then all of a sudden, things quit clicking," BYU coach Brad Cattermole said. "But we can't look back, we'll get through this."
Those who attended the BYU-SUU meet probably paid particular attention to SUU's Carly Geronimo on the floor, an event she spent much of the season ranked in the top 10. However, she performed only a watered-down version of her routine, as did her teammates, because they couldn't get used to BYU's floor.
"We just couldn't adjust to it, we were dying on that thing," SUU coach Scott Bauman said.
Geronimo still scored a 9.825, and is ranked 20th on the floor in a tie with teammate Sheena Shaw.
Nebraska hoped for a big crowd for Sunday, with the then top-ranked Utes coming to town, and with the men competing against Oklahoma at the same time. However, just 1,993 fans turned out for the meet, only 943 more than were in attendance for Nebraska's only other home meet, against Oklahoma. It was more than Utah expected, but not what Nebraska coach Dan Kendig had hoped for. Nebraska averaged just 1,331 fans last year.
"It's disappointing to have the No. 1 team in here and it isn't filled to the rafters," he said.
Aggies on the run
After losing its first five meets, Utah State has won its last two, scoring a 194.55 to beat Boise State, which had a 193.4 on Friday. Freshmen Jacki Fogli, Katie Omann and Megan Tschida combined for seven career highs and four top three finishes in the meet.
Around the nation
Stanford, which comes to Salt Lake City next week along with Florida and California, lost to defending champion UCLA 196.3-194.625, but the meet was closer than the score indicated through the first two rotations, when UCLA led just 98.3-98.25. Stanford fell apart on the balance beam, scoring only a 47.55.
Friday: Boise State at No. 25 Utah State, 7 p.m.; No. 4 Utah at No. 8 Georgia, 5:30 p.m.; No. 16 SUU at Cal State Fullerton, 8 p.m.
Saturday: Boise State at No. 13 BYU, 7 p.m.