Utes edge Stanford 196.300-196.100 in controversy-ridden meet

Posted at 6:17 PM, Feb 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-28 12:45:23-05

The University of Utah gymnastics meet started off on a high note, but was marred with controversy by the conclusion in their narrow 196.300 – 196.100 victory over number 12 Stanford Friday night.

The Red Rocks fell to number 5 this week after a pair of low-scoring away meets at Arizona State and Michigan, but were back at top form early Friday as they scored a 49.30 on the vault, highlighted by red-shirt senior Kyndal Robarts’ 9.975.

But lower scores on the final three events upset the coaches and fans, and that tension came to a head when the top-ranked Utes received low scores on the floor, including senior Stephanie McAllister’s  9.675 on a contested 9.8 start value, boos from the 14,756 fans filled the stadium as Marsden glared at the judges.

Marsden says the low scores weren’t just the judges’ fault; poor performances throughout the night hurt the Utes’ average.

“There were many very good performances tonight, but it certainly was not a complete meet for us. The judges were not responsible for our poor performances,” said Marsden.

All-around competitor Corrie Lothrop injured both arms in pre-meet warm-ups on Friday and only competed in two events–vault and beam–and freshman Kailah Delaney, one of Utah’s top vault performers, sat out Friday night with a sore Achilles, forcing new gymnasts into all four rotations.

After coming off what Marsden called their best bars rotation of the season last week against Michigan, Utah struggled on the apparatus Friday night, scoring their second lowest total of the season after a fall by Hailee Hansen forced the Red Rocks to count a low 9.675 by Mary Beth Lofgren. Only Georgia Dabritz (9.825) scored above a 9.80 as the Utes finished with a 48.80.

The Utes fared better on the beam, but not up to their usual standard after a fall by Lothrop. Robarts scored a 9.875 with her routine and the Utes finished with a 49.150.

Utah, ranked first in the nation on the floor, was at its finest Friday, but low scores by the judges led to tension between Marsden and the judges as Marsden paced the floor and glared, earning a yellow card. McAllister’s 9.675 and 9.8 start value were the final straw for Utah, as fans booed with Marsden encouraging the crowd. The Utes finished with a 49.050 on the floor.

Only McAllister competed in the all-around for Utah, finishing with an even 39.0. Stanford’s sole all-around competitor Ashley Morgan was in position for the victory, but she fell off the vault as the final competitor of the night when the stadium filled with boos. Morgan finished with a 38.775 after the 9.250 beam score.

The meet was close throughout the night, with Stanford and Utah taking top scores in two events; bars and beam for Stanford and vault and floor for Utah. Utah finished with a narrow 196.30-196.10 victory.

The national ranking system will change this week to Regional Qualifying scores, putting Utah at a disadvantage since away meets become more important in the scores. Utah will likely drop at least one more spot.

Utah will host number 8 Oregon State at the Huntsman Center next Friday at 7 p.m. in the Red Rocks’ annual “Pink” meet for breast cancer awareness.

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