Jan. 24, 1998
ANN ARBOR, MICH.--Three quarters of the way through its meet with Michigan, the University of Utah gymnastics team was right where it wanted to be: on the beam, with a lead. But a late case of nerves sent the No. 4 Utes spinning into a free fall that ended in a 195.850-194.350 loss.
Utah (1-1) appeared in good shape after three rotations against the Wolverines (2-1). The Utes held a tenuous 146.625-146.550 lead, but were headed for the event where they have led the nation for the last two years: the balance beam. A lineup missing two-time defending NCAA champion Summer Reid and All-American Traci Sommer to injuries found the going rocky. Molly Northrop got the job done from her leadoff spot, scoring a 9.75. Then the problems began. Ashley Kever and Denise Jones both toppled from the apparatus. Angie Leonard temporarily stopped the bleeding by posting a solid 9.75, before Theresa Wolf followed Kever's and Jones' lead--right off the beam. Freshman Shannon Bowles, who won her first career all-around with a 39.250, hung on for a 9.75, but the damage was done. While Utah was falling all over itself on beam, Michigan charged to a meet-high 49.30 score on the floor.
"It's tough to end a meet on beam in a highly-competitive situation like this," said Utah coach Greg Marsden, "But the disappointing thing is that a year ago we would have looked forward to that situation. I would have bet we'd be fine tonight, even without Summer (Reid) and Traci (Sommer). I really didn't see any nerves all night until beam. That's uncharacteristic for us to have troubles on beam."
Marsden was nervous about even fielding a team the night prior to the meet. All-America all-arounder Sommer and Jenny Schmidt were both out with knee injuries and Reid was available only on floor. Molly Northrop was coming off an illness and was a question mark until pre-meet warmups. But Marsden wasn't making any excuses about Utah's loss. "The others filling in were capable. We just caved at the end," said Marsden, who was pleased with Utah's efforts until that point.
Said Utah's associate head coach and beam coach Megan Marsden, "None of the athletes were working aggressively (on beam). It had a snowball effect. Everyone changed their approach and allowed others' falls to get to them."
Bowles was the bright spot for Utah, winning her debut all-around and placing second on the beam. Angie Leonard was third all- around with a 39.025. Utah did not win an individual event.
Michigan 195.850, Utah 194.350
All-Around: 1) Shannon Bowles (Utah) 39.250, 2. Bridget Knaeble (Michigan) 39.075, 3. Angie Leonard (Utah) 39.025, 4. Lisa Simes (Michigan) 38.925, 5. Theresa Wolf (Utah) 38.600, 6. Denise Jones (Utah) 37.40.
Vault: 1. Christine Michaud (Michigan) 9.85, 2. Bridget Knaeble (Michigan) 9.825, 3. (tie) Shannon Bowles (Utah), Angelika Schatton (Utah) 9.800.
Bars: 1. Nikki Peters (Michigan) 9.90, 2. Shannon Bowles (Utah) 9.875, 3. Sarah Cain (Michigan) 9.850
Beam: Bridget Knaeble (Michigan) 9.925, 2. (tie) Heather Kabnick (Michigan), Kate Nellans (Michigan) 9.875. Floor: 1. Bridget Knaeble (Michigan) 9.925, 2. (tie) Heather Kabnick (Michigan), Kate Nellans (9.875).