Ute Gymnasts Beat Florida

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SALT LAKE CITY - The Huntsman Center was supercharged even before Utah and Florida began their competition, and once the meet began, near pandemonium reigned for the next hour and a half. The No. 2 Utes took some time to get their emotions in check, but relaxed for the second half and went on to beat No. 5 Florida 197.075-196.000. A crowd of 15,082 fans - the fifth-largest in NCAA gymnastics history - cheered virtually every routine for both teams, though the biggest cheers were reserved for Ute seniors Nina Kim and Kristina Baskett, performing in their last home meet.

The pre-meet events included a rare speech by Utah head coach Greg Marsden, who coached the crowd on exactly how he wanted the glow- sticks used that were placed on the seats. Then, there was Olympic all- around gold medalist Nastia Liukin accompanying Kim out on the floor for her introduction, and both Kim and Baskett breaking into tears during introductions.

Interestingly, the seniors were among the few on the team who seemed at ease with the hoopla-induced pressure. Baskett won the all-around - tying her season high with a 39.675 - and Kim produced the best score of her career (a 39.600) to place second. Baskett also placed first on bars (9.975) and floor (9.925) and received a 10.0 from one judge for her bar routine. Kim won the beam with a 9.95 - like Baskett, receiving a 10.0 from one judge.

Utah got off to a decent start to the meet on the vault, aided by a monster 9.95 vault by Annie DiLuzio, who would win the event. Florida had to count a 9.675 on bars, due to a fall, and Utah led after one, 49.375-48.850.

The Utes ran into big trouble on the bars, although Baskett's 9.975 at the end of the set helped them salvage a 49.000. The Utes self-destructed in the middle of the lineup, with nationally ranked bar worker Jamie Deetscreek flirting with her first fall of the season. Deetscreek gamely kept her knee from touching on her dismount, but Utah would have to count her 9.65 score when bar All-American Daria Bijak fell two performers later. Kim (9.875) and Baskett (9.975) were the only Utes to approach their season bests as Utah's lead shrunk trimmed to a half a tenth- 98.375- 97.875.

A talk by Marsden before beam, in which he encouraged the Utes to relax and quit trying so hard, worked. Though Marsden, as usual, "watched" the event from the training room, his team did as he instructed. From the No. 3 post, Deetscreek redeemed herself with a beautiful beam routine that earned her a career-high 9.925. Bijak, too, bounced back from a disastrous bars, shrugging off a sore knee that limited her to the two events and scoring a 9.80. Baskett put up a 9.875 and then Kim polished things off with a 9.95. The nice set allowed the Utes some breathing room and they were up by 0.750 (147.675-146.925) after three.

Florida also turned in a nice beam set, but it wouldn't be enough to catch a Utah team back in the groove. Kyndal Robarts and DiLuzio both scored 9.875s before Kim and Baskett took their final turn on the Huntsman floor mat. In a great finale, Kim scored a 9.90 and Baskett a 9.925.

Utah broke the NCAA single-season attendance record. The Utes got 4,000 more people than they needed to break their old NCAA season record of 13,164 set in 1993, and the new benchmark is now 13,861.

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