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SALT LAKE CITY -By the end of the third rotation, the No. 5 ranked Utah gymnastics team had won the national attendance title and all but won the meet with Arizona State. Nicolle Ford had won the balance beam to a standing ovation from the crowd of 11,923 in attendance, many whom were wearing cardboard crowns to honor "Queenie" in her last regular season home meet.
Win the meet they did - 196.65-194.95 - but the Utes once again staggered to the finish line with a dismal floor performance. For the third straight week, they entered their final event bolstered by the highest three-event score of the season - this time a 148.125. Two falls and two out-of-bounds' flags later, Utah said good-bye to cracking 197.00 and settled for a win over a banged-up, out-matched ASU team.
Ford, at least, went out on a high note - winning the floor exercise with a 9.925. She finished tied for first in the all-around with Ashley Postell, as both scored a 39.55. She also tied Postell on the balance beam with matching 9.925s. Kristina Baskett picked up wins on the vault, where she scored a career-tying 9.975, and on bars with a 9.95. Baskett struggled on the floor, however, where she fell and went out of bounds. In a strange twist, Postell was tagged with a late out-of-bounds flag - after appearing to clearly land in bounds.
As has been Utah's practice all year, the troubles came in the second half of the meet. Utah opened with a season-best 49.50 score on the vault, which included career bests from Sarah Shire (9.90) and Baskett (9.975), and a season-best 9.925 from Postell. The Utes followed up with a solid 49.325 bar score, which included a 9.95 by Baskett and a 9.90 from Postell. Beam, a trouble area in several meets this year, went well on this night, and Ford and Postell's 9.925 scores helped Utah to a 49.30, not far off its season high of 49.375.
The momentum of the first three events failed to carry over to the finale, however, on a night where Utah won its 23rd gymnastics attendance crowd in the last 26 years. The Utes finished with an average home attendance of 11,297 to edge Alabama (11,284) for the title.