Utes' Postell, Tidd tie for 3rd on uneven bars

NCAA Gymnastics
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AUBURN, Ala. - Because of a heel bruise she suffered in Friday's team NCAA gymnastics competition, Utah freshman gymnast Ashley Postell was only able to compete in one event Saturday in event finals.

But she made good in the one appearance she had. Postell tied with teammate Rachel Tidd and UCLA's Tasha Schwikert for third place on the uneven bars, as all three scored 9.8875.

Postell made the finals in the vault and balance beam, but had to withdraw because of the bruise she suffered in warmups for Friday's team competition.

"This day wasn't the most important one, so it made my decision a little easier," Postell said of the decision to pull out of the other events. "I tried warming up on vault, and I kept rolling out of my landings. I knew then it wasn't going to work."

The night belonged to UCLA senior Kristen Maloney, who won the vault and balance beam titles with 9.9375s on both events. Maloney, who finished second in the all-around to teammate Tasha Schwikert, used some of the elements from her 2000 Olympic routines.

Maloney had a chance for a third title on the floor, but stepped out on her second pass and earned 9.7625.

The floor title was won by North Carolina's Courtney Bumpers who scored a 10.0, edging Alabama's Ashley Miles, who was second with a 9.975. The two tied for the title last year.

Alabama's Terin Humphrey scored a 9.9375 to win the uneven bars and Georgia's Kelsey Ericksen was second with a 9.925.

Utah senior Annabeth Eberle finished sixth on the vault with a 9.7688 and tied for eighth on the floor exercise with Iowa State's Laura-Kay Powell with a 9.8375. Fellow senior Gritt Hofmann was 10th on the floor with a 9.8.

Postell had hoped to compete in all three events, but aggravated the heel injury during bar warmups, forcing her to pull out of the other events. She also competed on the bars without warming up her dismount again.

"I told her to just go out and do it and block it out of her mind," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "She is a stud and she got it done."

Finishing third on the bars was satisfying for Postell, who considers it her worst event.

"I've had some mental blocks with it," she said. "But it has gotten better through the year, especially the last few meets when I was able to stick my dismount."

Postell's absence in the vault left only Eberle representing the Utes in the lineup. Eberle, the NCAA runner-up last year and a sixth-place finisher in 2003, had a big step on her first vault and then landed her second a little deep. Her combined scores were a 9.7688, placing her sixth.

"I was really tired after competing the last two days; there were a lot of us like that," Eberle said. "But I gave it all I had, literally. It was more difficult being out there alone without your team, it felt weird."

Eberle said she pushed a little more too, hoping to improve upon last year's result.

"I wanted it so bad, I tried to force it to happen," she said. "Sixth definitely isn't what I wanted, but it's good enough, I guess."

Tidd hit her bars routine cleanly, but it just wasn't dynamic enough to match the leaders. Like Postell, she was just glad to get through the routine.

"Competing three days in a row, I'm glad I'm done," she said. "I just tried to go out and have fun with it. First place would have been better, but I'll take it."

Story lines

IN SHORT: Ashley Postell and Rachel Tidd tie for third on the uneven bars

KEY STAT: Utah hasn't had an event winner since Theresa Kulikowski won the balance beam in 2001

KEY MOMENT: Following Ashley Miles, North Carolina's Courtney Bumpers put on a tumbling display to repeat as the floor champion, earning a 10.0