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There were more than a few murmurs coming from Utah's crowd at the gymnastics home opener Friday as one score after another hovered around the 9.7 range.
Welcome to the new judging rules. New rules put in place this year were supposed to lower scores and create a gap between the good and the great teams. So far, it has worked.
Utah earned its highest score of the season Friday, a 195.625. In comparison, the Utes opened with a 197.675 last year.
UCLA, Georgia and Alabama are the only teams that have scored above 196 this year, and no teams have reached 197 yet.
Low scores are fine with Utah coach Greg Marsden, as long as they stay consistent.
"Hopefully, they can stay true to form throughout the year," Marsden said.
Friday night's meet also delivered more judging conferences than normal. Most of the conferences were deciding whether a gymnast had the proper connection, a point of emphasis in the new codes.
"You can lose up to three or four tenths depending on what they say," Marsden said. "This is a new code of points and it's new to them too. They have to get used to it just like the crowd does."
Keep adding it in
The Utes have a busy week ahead of them, as Marsden wants to continue upgrading routines, especially on the floor, and cleaning up major deductions like hops on the vault.
Overall though, he's pleased with how the Utes look at this point in the season.
"We hit 23 out of 24 routines, and Gritt [Hofmann's] miss on the floor was a fluke, and we hit all of our exhibition routines," he said. "Ashley [Postell] hit on bars, so hopefully, all of that is past us. We've taken a major step forward, but we have to keep adding the upgrades."
Hofmann, who jammed her ankle last week and aggravated it when she fell on her second floor pass Friday, said it's not sore and will be ready for Friday's meet with Utah State and Southern Utah. Nicolle Ford is tentatively scheduled to participate only on the balance beam and uneven bars Friday to give her wrist some time off, but don't be surprised if the junior talks Marsden into letting her go in the all-around.
"It's the same," she said. "It's not any worse and not any better."
In the rankings
Utah moved up a spot to No. 2 with a 195.417 average, while Georgia (195.883) remains in first. Alabama is in third with a 195.392 average after beating Florida 195.775-194.625 in front of a sellout crowd of 15,162. UCLA, once in the unusually low ranking of No. 13, is climbing back up and currently is No. 9. The Bruins competed twice in two days at Washington and Oregon State over the weekend and set season-high scores both nights of 194.6 and 196.075. Nebraska slipped to No. 12, and Arizona State, Utah's opponent next week, is No. 13. . . . Individually, Utah's Kristina Baskett (39.325) is third in the all-around and Ford is fifth (39.237). Ford is also sixth on the uneven bars. BYU's Alethea Boon is ninth on the balance beam.