ATHENS, Ga. - Ashley Postell's success in the all-around has reflected her team's quest for a national title. In 2005, she finished third, and she finished second the last two seasons, the same placings the Utes had in the team competitions.
So if she wins the all-around tonight, as her No. 1 ranking suggests she might, would that be a good omen for the Utes?
Postell isn't going to think about what the coincidence might mean or the all-around at all if she can help it.
"It's in the back of my head, but if I let things like that get to me, it messes me up mentally," she said. "I'm just going to do my best and whatever happens, happens."
Her best has been good enough for her to win 10 all-around titles this season, just one short of the school record set by Suzanne Metz in 1995. The last Utah gymnast to win the all-around was Theresa Kulikowski in 1999.
Most who follow the sport probably were looking forward to a final showdown between Postell and Georgia's Courtney Kupets, who took the title the last two seasons. Unfortunately, Kupets' season ended when she tore her Achilles' tendon.
Her absence leaves LSU's Ashleigh Clare-Kearney as Postell's highest-ranked foe.
Another who has a shot at the title is Utah junior Kristina Baskett, ranked ninth.
The Utes had a slow start at the North Central regional championship on the uneven bars, as several gymnasts struggled through their routines. None of the breaks led to falls, and the Utes still won, but their low scored on that event led to a final score of 196.950 that wasn't very satisfying.
The Utes, who start out with the same rotation of a bye before bars today, don't want a repeat performance and have put an emphasis, during practices, on starting strong.
Georgia had to remove seating in its Stegeman Coliseum to make room for the gymnastics equipment, leaving it with just 8,755 seats. All of the tickets were sold by Monday. Anticipating a rowdy atmosphere, Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan believes an SEC team will win the championship, even if it isn't her team.
"The SEC teams are just so prepared for this kind of atmosphere," she said.
1. Ashley Postell (Utah), 39.705
2. Ashleigh Clare-Kearney (LSU), 39.57
3. Kiara Redmond-Sturms (Oklahoma), 39.555
4. Jessica Lopez (Denver) and Tabitha Yim (Stanford), 39.51
6. Corey Hartung (Florida), 39.495
7. Jami Lanz (Oregon State), 39.44
8. Morgan Dennis (Alabama), 39.425
9. Julie Dwyer (Auburn) and Kristina Baskett (Utah), 39.41