GAINESVILLE, Fla. By not counting a fall Friday, the Utah gymnastics team accomplished half of what it set out to do against the No. 3 ranked Florida Gators. But the first solid effort of the season wasn't quite enough for the No. 2 Utes to beat the Gators, who finished with a season-best 197.325 to Utah's 196.675.
Ute coach Greg Marsden was pleased with his team's performance, especially since several of his gymnasts attempted upgradesmostly successfully. The notable exception was Nicolle Ford, who over-rotated on her final pike double back and fell for the first time of the season. Ford has now "hit" 39-40 routines this year.
"You never like to lose and I don't feel good about that," said Marsden. "But I also feel good about our effort and our upgrades. Queenie (Ford) upgraded her floor routine and fell, but Ashley Postell tried a new vault for the first time and was very successful."
Utah's 196.675, its best road score of the year, came at a critical juncture as it was the Utes' final road meet leading into the postseason. Utah hosts BYU on Mar. 24 in its final regular season meet.
"We could have been a little cleaner, but to come here and meet a team on a big roll and do a good job on every event well that's a big step for us," said Marsden. "Now we just need to work on improving our confidence throughout the lineup."
Certainly he wasn't referring to Postell, who was nothing short of sensational in winning the all-around with a 39.65. Freshmen Nina Kim (39.35) and Kristina Baskett (39.075) finished second and third and Ford, even with a fall, placed fourth in the all-around with a 38.925. Postell also won two event titles. She soared practically to the end of the mat on her collegiate debut of a yurchenko one and a half vault and scored a meet-best 9.925. She won bars one rotation earlier with a season-best 9.925 score. Ford was Utah's other winner tying for first on the beam with a 9.925.
Ford and Postell again found themselves competing under fire as the last two performers on the beam. Gritt Hofmann fell immediately before Ford's turn, but typically, the miss had zero impact on Ford's routine. She looked all but flawless and then turned the job over to Postell, who finished things off with a 9.90.
Dominique D'Oliveira played a big role in the victory. Replacing Katie Kivisto in the bar lineup (Kivisto dislocated her elbow in Utah's last home meet and is out for the season), D'Oliveira was Utah's very first competitor of the night. Her season-best 9.775 likely means she'll lead off again next Friday against BYU.