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Utah's fifth-ranked gymnastics team faces its toughest opponent of the regular season when Pac-12 rival UCLA comes to town Saturday, but the Utes are more concerned with themselves than the fourth-ranked Bruins.
The Utes are re-evaluating themselves after Saturday's 196.550-196.525 loss at No. 11 Oregon State. Utah didn't have any major meltdowns in its performance, but never created momentum. The Utes seemed to have at least one subpar effort on each event that prevented the scores from rising.
They know they can't afford those kinds of performances against the Bruins or in the postseason.
"At this point in the year, we have to start building on our scores," coach Megan Marsden said. "You have to be hitting on all cylinders and hope the judges cooperate, but we didn't get a chance to have that happen on Saturday. We had some good individual performances that were fun, but overall it didn't help us in terms of the meet."
The Utes used Macey Roberts in the vault lineup, and the sophomore earned 9.8. MaKenna Merrell was a late addition to the floor lineup, and she earned 9.875.
Performances such as those, as well as continued steady efforts from MyKayla Skinner, Tiffani Lewis and other veterans continue to make the Utes believe they have a strong team. But there's still improvement that must be made, Marsden said.
"We just continue to have some small things we need to get done to be in the same category as UCLA, Florida, LSU and Oklahoma," she said. "We want to be there in the Super Six at the end of the year, and we will continue to see how we stack up against UCLA."
One area the Utes want to improve in is the vault.
Even though the Utes are ranked fifth in the vault with a 49.225 average, Marsden and her gymnasts acknowledge they must do a better job of sticking the landings.
The Utes scored 49.125 in the loss to the Beavers.
"We struggled with that last year and we are struggling with it this year," Marsden said. "The coaches are all coming up with different training plans to see if there is something we can do to get better landings in meet scenarios. It's tricky because vaulting is like tumbling. We don't want to do too much because we want to maintain their bodies, but we need better landings."
In the rankings
Oklahoma maintained the top spot with a 197.813 average followed by LSU (197.579), Florida (197.521), UCLA (197.025) and Utah (196.879). Skinner is second in the all-around (39.583), seventh in the vault (9.908), eighth in the beam (9.883) and fifth in the floor (9.933). Baely Rowe is seventh in the beam (9.888).
UCLA brings to town one of the best bar workers in the nation in Christine Peng-Peng Lee, who is ranked second (9.935). Both Peng-Peng Lee and Madison Kocian earned 10.0s on the bars in the Bruins' 198.125-194.175 win over Stanford on Saturday.
Rank, School Average
1. Oklahoma 197.813
2. LSU 197.579
3. Florida 197.521
4. UCLA 197.025
5. Utah 196.879
6. Alabama 196.725
7. Boise State 196.405
8. Michigan 196.338
9. Kentucky 196.257
10. Georgia 196.229
11. Denver 196.161
12. Oregon State 196.075
13. Southern Utah 195.94
14. Washington 195.875
15. Missouri 195.861
16. Nebraska 195.729
17. Auburn 195.718
18. California 195.708
19. Ohio State 195.646
20. George Wash. 195.613
21. Illinois 195.517
22. Iowa 195.489
23. Arkansas 195.467
24. West Virginia 195.108
25. Arizona 195.038