Utah Gymnastics: U. survives lackluster effort

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

IN SHORT - The Utes didn't count a fall, but posted their second-lowest score at home of the year in getting the win.

KEY STAT - Kristen Riffanacht, put into the floor lineup when Ashley Postell was pulled, earned a season-high 9.825.

KEY MOMENT - Katie Kivisto dislocated her elbow during warmups on the uneven bars.

l Gabi Onodi breaks into the lineup on uneven bars. Notes, D2

Speaking a day before Friday's meet against No. 17 Oregon State, Utah coach Greg Marsden said he only wanted a decent, solid performance from his gymnastics team.

Good thing those were his only expectations, because the Utes couldn't muster much more in a 196.575-195.15 win over the Beavers in front of 10,825 at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes had nothing of the "let me

at 'em" attitude they exhibited against Georgia on Monday, muscling through their swings on the bars and struggling to get amplitude on the vault.

Sticking their dismounts and cleaning up the routines will have to wait, this was a meet they just wanted to survive after facing more challenges than just the Beavers. The Utes still hadn't recovered from their meet with Georgia, many of the gymnasts had mid-terms this week and sophomore Katie Kivisto was lost for the season when she dislocated her elbow in warmups on the uneven bars.

"This is one I'm just glad to get behind us," Marsden said. "We did do a good job. It started off on a downer with Katie, and it's just hard to be enthusiastic after that."

Kivisto only performs on the uneven bars and she has had two scores of 9.8 or better as the first up. The loss of Kivisto may not seem to hurt that much, but combined with the season-ending injury to Natalie Nicoloff, who tore a tendon in her elbow two weeks ago, the already thin Utes are getting thinner.

"It's getting scary," Marsden said.

After lackluster performances on the vault and bars, the Utes finally showed a little life on the balance beam, with Gritt Hofmann, Nicolle Ford and Ashley Postell all earning 9.875s. Utah earned a 49.2 on the event, tying its third-best showing on the beam this year.

The Utes at least finished strong with Kristen Riffanacht leading off the floor rotation with a season high 9.825. Jessica Duke tied her career high with a 9.85 and freshman Kristina Baskett had a career-high 9.925.

"We've all had a lot going on this week," Riffanacht said. "We're not used to competing on Mondays and face it, Oregon State isn't Georgia."

Ford won the all-around with a 39.45, her third-highest score of the year with performances that surprised even herself after she spent much of the week studying for a history mid-term. She didn't practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, and did very little Thursday.

"Caffeine is keeping me going right now," she said. "I'm a walking zombie. I'm so tired I'm sick to my stomach and I'm sleeping all day tomorrow."

Freshman Nina Kim showed a little more spark than many of her teammates, finishing with a 39.175 in the all-around. Her scores included a 9.825 she earned for an upgraded vault, a yurchenko one-and-a-half. It marked the first time she'd performed the vault in competition in over a year.

"I never thought I'd compete it again," she said. "I was nervous in warmups tonight, but it came out all right."

Baskett's 9.95 on the floor was the only score that was a 9.9 or higher for either team.

Perhaps Baskett and Kim were feeling better than their teammates because they didn't have mid-terms, or maybe the rookies just didn't know they should have a letdown after Georgia, or maybe they just didn't hear their coach's earlier fears.

"I was very nervous about this meet," Marsden said. "I'm just glad we got through with a relatively nice meet."