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(Courtesy University of Utah)SALT LAKE CITY - The No. 3-ranked Ute gymnasts couldn't quite match the energy of the Huntsman Center crowd of 13,975, but they put on a good enough show to beat No. 8 Michigan 196.425-195.425.
Freshman Nansy Damianova, who set or tied career highs on vault, bars and floor said, "Our adrenaline and excitement weren't quite like in the beginning of the season tonight, but it will come back this week."
Coach Greg Marsden felt the same way after his Utes improved to 6-1 and completed their seventh meet of the season without counting a fall. "I thought we were a little flat. We weren't horrible by any means, but we weren't great. It's the first meet I thought we came into without a lot of intensity." He added, "Ironically, it was our best team effort on floor, and I have to give (the gymnasts) credit because they could have let it get away from them a couple of times and they didn't."
One who made sure of that was junior Stephanie McAllister, who followed a fall on bars and beam and got the Utes back in the groove both times. "I'm not going to deny that it's nerve wracking," laughed McAllister about going up right after a fall.
McAllister and freshman Corrie Lothrop both battled illness this week and McAllister acknowledged she did not feel 100 percent in the meet. It was hard to tell from her career-high scores on vault (9.875) and floor (9.90). She won the floor title while finishing second in the all-around (39.30) and on vault. Utah's other winner was Gael Mackie on bars with a 9.925.
Utah jumped out to a 49.100-48.550 lead on the first rotation after a vault set highlighted by McAllister's career-high 9.875 routine at the end of the lineup.
Mackie's career-tying 9.925 on the bars kept Utah ahead after two rotations, 98.150-97.725. Her winning routine came one competitor after normally steady Lothrop suffered her first fall of the season from the No. 4 post. Immediately prior to Mackie, McAllister hung on for a 9.725 and Utah came away from the beam unscathed.
Mackie didn't fare as well on beam--falling from her No. 2 post--and this time her teammates saved the day. McAllister recovered with a 9.80 then left it up to Cortni Beers (9.85), Lothrop (9.80) and Mary Beth Lofgren (9.75) to complete the set without further mishaps.
McAllister's 9.90 capped Utah's best floor set of the season--a 49.225--preceded by Damianova's 9.875 routine.