SALT LAKE CITY ?— Being ranked ninth is better than being ranked 11th, an all-time low for a University of Utah gymnastics team that was reached on Jan. 11.
But by this time of the year — with the rankings system having moved to the Regional Qualifying Score from raw season average — the Utes are reaching a point where there may not be a whole lot they can do to better their poll numbers.
The 5-2 Utes, coming off their poorest score of the season, 195.10 at Michigan last Friday, have just two road meets left, including Friday at 7 p.m. at No. 31, 2-7 BYU, to try and raise their RQS.
The RQS is an average of a team's six best scores, three of which must be from road meets, and Ute road scores have included 195.10, 195.125 and 195.85, with only the 196.475 at Arizona State Feb. 5 to improve that average.
The Utes either have to get better fast, "Or just live with it and have to be good when we get to postseason," said coach Greg Marsden Monday.
"We're running out of opportunities on the road."
The only other road meet is at Florida, currently ranked fourth, on March 19. That is also the site of the 2010 NCAA Championships April 22-24.
"We're going to run out of opportunities and not going to be able to do much about our ranking," Marsden said, "so then it's a matter of you've just go to regional and do a good job."
Luckily, the regional is at Utah this year, on April 10.
"That's always a good thing," Marsden said, noting that not only will Utah fans be numerous in the Huntsman Center, but his team won't have the stress of traveling. It will also save the Ute budget $12,000-$15,000. The NCAA does not pay for teams to go to regionals; it only pays travel for the 12 teams that earn their way to the national championships.
FALLOUT: The Ute coach was still harsh in comments Monday about Friday's poor results at Michigan after singling out senior Jamie Deetscreek and sophomore Stephanie McAllister that night.
"We've just got to be better," Marsden said. Asked how that would transpire, he said, "Not have a senior meltdown. Not hit our feet on the bars and take any deductions. Not fall off the balance beam. Pretty simple.
It's not rocket science."
But he said it is fixable, and he called Friday another "mixed bag" of results, pretty similar to what he'd said after the 196.225-178.25 win at home Feb. 12 over Utah State.
"There were some very good things, and there were some things that were disappointing.
"Cortni (Beers, a sophomore) probably did the best beam routine of her career (at Michigan) and did an OK bars set, other than she brushed her feet on the bar, which is an automatic .2 deduction, so you're starting from a 9.8, so instead of a 9.85 you go 9.65," he said. "That's not good, but it's probably not as bad as it seems. We can fix that. We can fix Steph brushing the bar. Those are easily fixable."
Junior Kyndal Robarts, who spent the week at home with a strep infection, tied her career highs in vault with 9.95 and all-around with 39.275.
"Beth (Rizzo, a senior) did a great job on her two events, Jacq (Johnson, a junior) competed floor for the first time for us, did a great job. There were some people that really stepped up and did probably their best job of the year," Marsden said.
He cut Deetscreek some slack, saying her grips for uneven bars had broken, and she was using new ones and "didn't get her dowel over the bar on the first element, so it was kind of a mess after that. I think she was embarrassed, and my impression was — Jamie doesn't say a lot, so it was hard to get anything out of her — she was humiliated and embarrassed and didn't get it back together after that, or struggled to get it back together after that."
RANKINGS: Southern Utah is No. 21 with a 194.545 RQS, while BYU's is 193.165 and the Aggies moved up to 44th at 190.165.
Individually, the state's highest-ranked all-around is SUU's Elise Wheeler at 11th (39.20), ahead of Utah's No. 12 Daria Bijak (39.165). In individual events Robarts ranks No. 3 on vault (9.910) with Bijak and Annie DiLuzio tied with three others for fourth among floor workers (9.89).
Women's gymnastics rankings
By Regional Qualifying Score
Team RQS average high score
1. Oklahoma 196.615 196.632 197.250
2. Alabama 196.595 196.671 197.450
3. UCLA 196.365 196.156 197.375
4. Florida 196.285 196.279 197.250
5. Georgia 196.205 196.161 197.200
6. Stanford 196.170 196.082 196.675
7. Oregon State 196.150 196.157 196.725
8. Arkansas 196.050 196.096 197.025
9. Utah 195.995 195.946 196.550
10. LSU 195.745 195.654 196.475
21. Southern Utah 194.545 194.667 195.275
31. BYU 193.165 193.529 195.350
44. Utah State 190.165 188.425 191.650