Utes to honor seniors Eberle, Hofmann

30-year anniversary: Team will recognize 51 former gymnasts before meet against Arizona St.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ute gymnastics tonight

What: Arizona State at Utah, 7 p.m.

Utah: Sophomore Rachel Tidd, who competed on only two events last week because of an illness, is still sick and hasn't practiced all week. She probably won't compete tonight.

Arizona State: Ashley Kelly, the defending national champion on balance beam, injured her foot last week and is questionable for tonight, adding to ASU's long list of injuries. Two freshmen are out for the season, and Lauren Powell is limited to two events because of a foot injury. . . . Assistant coach Shelly Schaerrer competed for the Utes (1989-2002).

By the time they are seniors in college, most gymnasts are ready for the end of their careers.

Not Gritt Hofmann and Annabeth Eberle. The two Utah gymnasts hate to hear their names and the words "Senior Night" together.

"When you start competing, you look at a season and think 12 weeks is a long time," Eberle said. "Before you know it, you've only got a couple meets left. It's going to be an emotional night."

Eberle and Hofmann will be honored tonight as Utah plays host to Arizona State (7 p.m., Huntsman Center) in its last regular season meet at home. Utah is also hosting a regional meet April 9, but the Utes won't have a chance to honor their seniors then because that is an NCAA championship event.

Also tonight, Utah is celebrating the program's 30th anniversary. Of the 91 gymnasts who have competed for the Utes, 51 are returning. They'll be recognized at 6:45 p.m. so the meet can start on time.

Utah coach Greg Marsden credited Hofmann and Eberle for their leadership, as well as their skills.

"AB came in and immediately got it and made an impact," he said. "Gritt came in a little more beat up. It wasn't until that following year after the Christmas break that she had a breakthrough. Both came in on very different paths, but they've ended up in the same place."

Hofmann's parents are here from Germany for tonight's meet.

"I can't remember the last time they saw me compete," Hofmann said. "It's exciting, to show off your routine one last time."

Hofmann will compete on the balance beam and possibly the vault and will end the night on the floor, where she has a surprise in store for the Utah fans.

Eberle will compete in the all-around, unless a cold she has prevents her from doing so.

"I've got so many great memories," Eberle said. "It's so much fun to hear the crowd erupt like when they announced the scores when we beat Michigan and it was close. That still gives me chills to think about."

Between the reunion and senior night, Marsden is mindful all the emotions could lead to a distracted performance by the Utes, which is why the ceremonies will be sweet, but short.

"We want to be classy, but they still have some meets left," he said. "We still have a lot of things left to accomplish."