Marsden: It began in the 70s

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CORVALLIS, Ore. - The NCAA, which started sanctioning women's gymnastics in 1982, is celebrating the last 25 years of gymnastics. But Utah coach Greg Marsden wishes the NCAA would recognize the years gymnastics was sponsored by the AIAW, starting in the 1970s.

"Don't let the NCAA act like there is only 25 years of gymnastics, because they wouldn't support it [in the 1970s]," he said. "They wanted nothing to do with women's athletics. When the NCAA decided to do it, they had the money and the power to take it over."

Utah qualified for its first national championships under the AIAW in 1976 and won its first title in '81. That championship never existed according to the NCAA, which irks Marsden.

"The NCAA doesn't recognize anything prior to when they came in," he said.

Utah is the only team that has qualified for all 25 of the NCAA championships, and has qualified for every championship since that first appearance in 1976.

Play how you practice

Utah had a bad workout before the regional championships, then had a poor meet, so the Utes are hoping Wednesday's good workout translates into a good meet today.

"It couldn't have gone better in terms of the demeanor I'd hoped they'd have and the way we went about working out," Marsden said. "We left today with a very good feeling."

Utah junior Nicolle Ford said the team was more focused Wednesday than it was in the final practice before regionals.

"Hopefully today's workout is a little bit of foreshadowing," she said.

Senior gets it

Marsden said he would use Gabi Onodi as the second up on the balance beam instead of freshman Kristina Baskett. Onodi and Baskett fell at regionals, which is why Kristen Riffanacht has been moved to the leadoff spot.

"Gabi has the seniority," he said. "Unless they're not training well or something, I feel like I need to go with the seniors."

Conference conflicts

With five of the 12 teams at the NCAA Championships coming from the SEC, other conferences are feeling a little overpowered.

The Pac-10 is represented by two, but not the two everyone predicted. Conference favorites UCLA and Stanford didn't make the cut, and Oregon State and Arizona State did.

"We're excited to be here, but I'm not real excited to look around and see all SEC," Arizona State coach John Spini said. "I'm looking for the Pac-10 all the time, but I do have some nice friends in the SEC."

Unknown identity

Marsden has won more championships than any other college gymnastics coach, with 10 titles, but his identity wasn't good enough to get him through the door Wednesday when he tried to enter the coliseum with his team. The team made it past security OK, but Marsden didn't and had to talk his way in.

"I guess they thought I was a stalker," he said.

Ready to go

Nebraska was without Vanessa Meloche at regionals because of a shoulder injury, but coach Dan Kendid said she will be in the bars lineup today.