Ute Gymnastics: Attendance sets record

Utes appreciative for support in final home meet of the season
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You can debate all you want about how the Utah gymnastics team was able to once again top an attendance record.

The Utes are just happy that they made history.

Then again, maybe it was because the Utes were facing in-state rival Brigham Young in their last home meet of the season at the Huntsman Center that 15,447 people decided to come out. Maybe it was because it was senior night, as the Utes fans said farewell to Katie Kivisto, hometown hero Jessica Duke and all-everything Ashley Postell.

It was probably a combination of all.

And because of it, the Utes set a national attendance record for a gymnastics meet, surpassing their 1991 crowd of 15,238 against CSU-Fullerton. Though he was very happy about the attendance, Utes coach Greg Marsden didn't know before Friday night if his current Utes would set a new record.

He didn't think so because he didn't know if the fire marshal would allow more than 15,000 people into the arena, which is the capacity.

"It's really exciting to think 10 minutes down the road, there's another arena that can hold 18,000, 20,000 in it," Marsden said. "The fact that we can do this on the same night the Jazz are playing, with some 19,000 people down there, too, it's really exciting."

Sean Farrell, assistant ticket manager at Utah, said the fire marshal allowed some extra 400 people into the arena, with most of them operating in the standing-room areas and with some placing their kids on their laps to watch the meet - which the Utes won 197.100-193.85 over the Cougars. Farrell also said the school didn't have to do any special promotion to attract fans, adding that the Utes have "great fan support."

Now, the Utes have reached the 15,000-mark four times. And after Friday night, their average home attendance is now at 12,771, second only to their best average of 13,164 in 1993.

"I knew we were having great sales," Marsden said, "but I never would have guessed that we would sell out."

Even Duke, who is from Sandy, knew the night was special when she looked up in the stands to locate her parents and she didn't see empty seats.

"They're why we're here," Duke said about the fans. "They're part of the reason why I came here. They made it so worth it. If I went somewhere else and there were half the fans, I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much."