Red Rocks fall behind early as dreams of posting a rare undefeated season fade away
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The perfect season for Utah's gymnastics team vanished in the short time it took Florida to whip out a couple vaults Friday.
Third-ranked Florida (8-2) handed the Utes (10-1) their first loss, taking a 197.700-196.875 in Florida's O'Connell Center in front of 4,274. The defeat leaves Utah's 1993 team (17-0) as the program's only team to go unbeaten through the regular season.
Funny though how wins and losses can be perceived by teams. Even though they lost, the Utes felt better about their performance than they did a week ago when they struggled to beat Oregon State 196.300-195.150.
"People are going to say, 'Oh you aren't undefeated anymore,' " sophomore Annie DiLuzio said. "But that doesn't really matter. We had some mistakes, but it's about learning and growing from those and the experiences and coming out on top in the end."
Florida's total was its second-best of the season as the Gators celebrated their senior night with a statement win.
Florida's next competition is the SEC Championships on March 29.
Neither team had a fall, and Florida finished out the meet on the floor with all but one gymnast earning a 9.9 or higher as there were Gator chomps and praises all around.
Florida's Amanda Castillo won the all-around with a 39.625, marking the first time this season Utah's Ashley Postell hasn't taken home the award.
"I don't know if we can do much better than that," Florida coach Rhonda Faehn said. "We just put everything together and that's what you want to do at this point in the season."
The difference between the teams for most of the night was less than 0.4, but the few tenths of a point might as well have been five points for all the luck Utah had in overcoming it.
Even though the Utes never counted a fall and the only major break was a step out on floor by Kristina Baskett, Utah couldn't chip into the 0.325 the Gators earned on the first rotation and lost ground instead as the meet progressed. It wasn't like the Utes folded, like they did last season at Georgia; Florida just never allowed them to catch up.
"We came in here in a tough situation, and the girls did a good job all the way through," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "But we ran into a Florida team that was on fire."
Losing the perfect record was disappointing, junior Kristina Baskett said, but not crushing.
"We can't be all pissed off we lost, that wouldn't help us," she said. "It's going to help us all get better, and even though it was better than last week, we can all improve, including myself."
Florida opened with a 49.375 on the vault, scoring nothing lower than a 9.825, while the Utes posted a 49.05 on the uneven bars, their third-lowest score of the year.
The Utes didn't have any big breaks on the bars, but they didn't get many big scores either with Baskett's 9.9 being the team high.
The Utes didn't make up any of the scoring on the vault, where they are ranked No. 1 nationally, earning a 49.4 while the Gators posted the same on the uneven bars.
Postell led with a 9.95 and Baskett and Kyndal Robarts both had 9.9s.
Even with a solid floor rotation the Utes lost ground to Florida on the balance beam, trailing by 0.4 after the event.
With the gap widening, it was obvious only a Florida meltdown on the floor that would force the Gators to count a fall would preserve Utah's perfect record. It didn't happen as the Gators closed out the meet with a season high floor score of 49.6 that was just .05 short of the school record.
"I'm not sure they can be better, but I know we can do better than we did tonight," Marsden said. "We had a lot of missed handstands and little deductions I could go through every event and talk about. They are a very good team, and we are too."
* IN SHORT: Utah loses its first meet of the season, and its third straight to Florida in the regular season.
* KEY MOMENT: The Utes fall behind in the first rotation and never catch up to the Gators.
* KEY STAT: Senior Ashley Postell doesn't win the all-around, ending her streak of eight straight wins.
Vault: Ashley Postell (Utah) 9.95
Uneven bars: Amanda Castillo (Florida), Melanie Sinclair (Florida), Kristina Baskett (Utah) 9.9
Balance beam: Ashley Reed (Florida) and Amanda Castillo (Florida) 9.9
Floor: Corey Hartung (Florida) and Amanda Castillo (Florida) 9.95
All-around: Amanda Castillo (Florida) 39.625
First rotation: Florida 49.375 (V), Utah 49.05 (UB) - Utah trails .325
Second rotation: Florida (UB) 49.4, Utah (V) 49.4 - Utah trails .325
Third rotation: Florida (BB) 49.325, Utah (F) 49.25 - Utah trails .4
Fourth rotation Florida (F) (49.6), Utah (BB) 49.175 - Utah trails .825