ATHENS, Ga. - Friday marked the first time Georgia and Utah's gymnastics teams have met in a dual meet in 14 years, but the rivalry is as fresh, and fiery, as ever.
Eighth-ranked Georgia, which lost its last four meets, defeated No. 4 Utah 197.275-197.150, but the Utes were even more fired up after the meet than before, believing they had a victory taken from them.
"We won this meet," Utah senior Annabeth Eberle said. "We watched their routines, and the
routines we were getting a 9.8 for, they were getting 9.925s. It's tough to lose, but especially to them."
Eberle's thoughts were echoed by others, who may not have cared much about the Utah-Georgia rivalry before, but certainly do now.
"We're not happy," sophomore Nicolle Ford said. "It was frustrating to have it end that way; wait until they get to our place next year."
Georgia's score was a season high, eclipsing a 196.3 it scored at Oklahoma two weeks ago. Part of Georgia's high score can be pointed to its clean meet, the first in five meets it hasn't had to count a fall.
But knowing Georgia was at its best or close to it, and that they came within tenths of beating it, only added to the Utes' frustrations.
"I was happy for them, because I've known they've been frustrated, and Utah always seems to bring out the best in Georgia," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "But one nice thing about a dual meet is that you can watch the other team, and I don't feel the same standards were applied to both teams. That was one advantage to the new judging system this year, it was supposed to take that home advantage away, but I don't think that happened tonight."
Friday's meet marked the first time the two have met in a dual situation since 1991 because of a disagreement over the scoring the last time Utah was in Athens, when it won by 0.05 points.
Probably mindful of the past, Marsden made an effort to separate his feelings toward Georgia and the judges.
"They were over there doing their thing, and we were doing ours," he said. "We just had the wrong leotard on."
Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said she wouldn't talk about the scoring, but then did anyway.
"We've been concerned about where we give up tenths of points," she said. "And that's probably what they should be focused on too. Their beam was unbelievable, but I know they gave up some tenths on the bars."
Utah opened on the uneven bars, with Katie Kivisto almost missing her mount and scoring a 9.725, tying her season low.
Dominque D'Oliveira, who didn't compete on the uneven bars last week at Nebraska after she crashed three times during warmups, fell Friday. It was her first miss in four performances.
Ashley Postell had a great routine but took several steps on her dismount. With all the miscues, Utah scored a 48.975, its third-lowest score of the season on that event.
While Utah was struggling, Georgia was putting together its best vault performance of the year, with four gymnasts getting season highs, helping the Gym Dogs to a 49.475.
Just like last week, Utah was forced to chase. The Utes cut into Georgia's lead the most when they were on floor, scoring a 49.325 with 9.9s from Ashley Postell and Annabeth Eberle.
Georgia earned a 49.025 on the balance beam, leaving the Dogs with only a 147.7-147.6 going into the last rotation, where the Gym Dogs were on the floor and the Utes were on the beam.
Utah earned a season best 49.55 on beam, with Eberle and Postell earning 9.95s and Ford a 9.925.
However, it wasn't enough to catch the Gym Dogs, at least in the numerical sense.
"We were so on, except for bars, we couldn't have done any better," Eberle said. "It's frustrating."
IN SHORT - Utah earned its second-highest score of the season, but still lost the meet, and left fuming over the judging.
KEY STAT - Utah gave itself a chance to win, thanks to a 49.55 on the balance beam, the second-highest score it earned on any event this year.