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SALT LAKE CITY - After an early mishap, the Utah gymnastics team was right on the "Money" in a 197.100-193.850 win over Brigham Young on Senior Night. The largest crowd ever to watch a collegiate gymnastics meet - 15,447 - saw senior Ashley "Money" Postell win three events and the all-around, while scoring a perfect 10.0 on the balance beam. Postell, who received lengthy standing ovations before, during and after the meet, tied the school career win record in the process. She will enter postseason competition with 112 wins - matching former Ute great Theresa Kulikowski, who accomplished the feat from 1999-03.
The 15,447 fans in attendance broke a national record set back in 1991, when the Utes drew 15,238 against Cal State Fullerton. It was Utah's fourth all-time crowd of 15,000-plus, but its first since 1993. Making the feat even more amazing was that the Utah Jazz were playing the Los Angeles Clippers before a sellout crowd of 19,911 just down the hill. The giant crowd also gave the Utes their 24th national gymnastics attendance title in the last 27 years. The 2008 Utes drew 76,623 fans to their six home meets for an average of 12,771 fans per meet - the third highest season average in school and NCAA gymnastics history.
Postell wasn't the only Ute to receive a standing ovation, although the five-minute celebration that followed her 10.0 blockbuster routine was the longest. Fellow seniors Jessica Duke and Katie Kivisto competed in the Huntsman Center for the last time as well, and Duke had perhaps her best routine of the season - tying her season high with a 9.85. Kivisto led off Utah's floor set with a 9.725. A junior had the fans on their feet as well. Kristina Baskett scored a career-high 9.975 on the bars while receiving a 10.0 from one judge and virtually all of the fans.
Baskett won that event and Postell took home the rest of the hardware, scoring a 9.925 on vault, a 10.0 on beam, a 9.90 on floor and a 39.725 in the all-around.
When Postell nailed her floor set, the Utes secured what is believed to be another school record - finishing the regular season without counting a fall in a single meet.
Oddly enough, Utah got off to a shaky - and frightening - start to the meet. Utah's second vaulter, Daria Bijak fell awkwardly when landing her vault - Utah's first fall of the year on that event. Bijak lay on the mat clutching her left knee, although she walked off the floor under her own power. Even that ended well for the Utes. After an evaluation by team trainer Tom Iriye and orthopedic surgeon Bob Burks, Bijak returned to the competition and finished her night with scores of 9.875 on bars, 9.90 on beam and 9.825 on floor.
After Bijak's fall, the Utes regrouped on vault (where they are the nation's top ranked team), although their 49.150 was their third lowest score on the event this season. On the other side of the floor, BYU had to count a fall on the bars, and Utah led 49.150-48.075 after one. That was the closest the Cougars would get.
In round two, Utah scored a season-high 49.475 on bars. Highlights included the return of Bijak after her knee hyper-extension incident, and a fine routine by Duke, who was competing with a sore back that prevented her from training all week. Of course, Baskett's 9.975 brought another thunderous chorus from the crowd. After two events, the Utes led 98.625-96.775,
It was more of the same in round three, where the Utes scored a season-high 49.450 on the beam. The last five gymnasts scored a 9.825 or better, including a 9.875 by Nina Kim and a 9.90 by Bijak. The crowd - and Postell - were primed for a 10.0, and when her scores came up, the place erupted in honor of the 2002 World and 2007 NCAA balance beam champion.
Just one competitor later, there was yet another standing ovation, when Kivisto performed the final Huntsman Center of her career. The first fall of the year by Baskett was the only major miscue and Postell made sure it wouldn't hurt by scoring a 9.90.