An overflowing crowd of 15,447 packed the Huntsman Center on Friday in anticipation of seeing something special. Utah senior Ashley Postell didn't disappoint, tying a school record for career wins, earning a 10.0 on the balance beam and leading Utah's second-ranked gymnastics team past BYU 197.100-193.850.
The Utes finished the regular season 11-1 while BYU finishes 6-10-1. Both teams find out Monday where they will head for the NCAA regional championships April 12.
That there was an actual competition between the rivals was almost a footnote to what turned out to be Postell's farewell night.
The senior won four events, scoring a 9.925 on the vault, a 10.0 on the balance beam, a 9.9 on the floor and finishing with a 39.725 in the all-around to bring her career wins to 112, tying former Utah standout Theresa Kulikowski.
Postell's perfect score on the balance beam was her third on the event in her career and also the third 10.0 she has earned in 2008, with the other two coming on the vault.
"When her beam routine is like that, she's going to get a 10.0 every time," teammate Kristina Baskett said. "That is what she does."
As she finished her routine, Postell casually took a seat on a mat while the Huntsman Center crowd erupted into a standing ovation anticipating a 10.0 that Postell said she didn't think she would get.
"That's just me, I guess," she said. "It's good that I'm that way so I don't expect something it's not and be disappointed."
The only event Postell didn't win was the uneven bars, where she scored a 9.9 to finish second to Baskett, who won with a career-high 9.975.
Postell finished off with a floor routine using her old music to surprise the crowd. A couple steps on her landings prevented her from getting a higher score, but the few mistakes didn't hurt the fans' enthusiasm as they gave her another rousing ovation.
It was one of the loudest ovations the Huntsman Center has had recently, as Utah's attendance went beyond the sellout capacity of 15,000 because of a large walk-up crowd.
The attendance broke the previous mark of 15,238 that attended a 1991 meet between the Utes and Cal CS-Fullerton.
"That is the kind of problem you want to have," Utah coach Greg Marsden said of the sellout, attributing it to Postell's final night and the overall success the Utes have enjoyed in 2008. Aside from Postell's personal records, the Utes also became what is believed to be the first squad to go through a regular season without counting a fall.
The Utes have had just nine falls out of the 288 routines performed by the team.
"I can't believe I'm still going back to last season, but this is such a remarkable turnaround from last year when we couldn't hit a meet," Marsden said. "I'm so proud of the girls. They worked hard in the offseason and came in with different attitudes and completely changed the demeanor of this team."
The Utes had two of their falls Friday, with Daria Bijak falling on the vault and Baskett falling on the floor. The Utes made up for those lower event scores with season highs on the uneven bars (49.475) and balance beam (49.45).
"We told them that it's OK, this isn't the meet where we wanted to peak," Marsden said.
Marsden compared the current team to the squads he coached in 1992 and 1993, when the Utes won a national title in 1992 and completed their only undefeated regular season in 1993.
"It has been a great season and a great team, from a coaching standpoint you couldn't ask for more," he said.