Go Utes!
Go Utes!
NCAA Gymnastics Championships Ahead for Utah

Denise Jones leads <BR>Utah to the NCAA <BR>Championships. (file photo)

Denise Jones leads
Utah to the NCAA
Championships. (file photo)
April 8, 1998

NCAA Championships
April 16-18
Los Angeles, Calif. (UCLA)
Pauley Pavilion (10,000)

TIMES

Thursday
1:00 p.m. Session I (odd seeds)
7:30 p.m. Session II (even seeds)

Friday
7:30 p.m. Super Six (team finals)

Saturday
7:30 p.m. Individual Event Finals

*all times Pacific Daylight

QUICKLY
Utah, winner of a record 10 national championships (four in the 1990s), has qualified for the 1998 NCAA Championships in Los Angeles ... The meet is April 16-18 in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion ... Utah qualified automatically into the NCAA Championships by winning the Midwest Region meet ... The Utes go into nationals as the No. 6 seed ... Utah is making a record 22nd straight trip to nationals and is one of two teams (along with Florida) to make all 17 NCAA Gymnastics Championships ... The Utes and host UCLA will compete with the other even seeded teams in the evening session on Thursday, April 16 ... Utah's session will start at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight time ... The top three teams from each of Thursday's sessions, regardless of score, qualify for the Super Six, Friday at 7:30 p.m. PDT ... Utah had a 7-3 regular season record and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the nation ... The Utes have faced four of the 12 NCAA qualifiers and posted a 4-2 record against them ... Utah was the only team to win a region outside of its home state. Penn State was the only other team to win its region on the road (at Pittsburgh) ... The meet will be televised tape delayed on CBS, May 3 at 12 noon (Mountain time).

U. VIEW
Utah continued its dominance of the Midwest Region, winning its 11th straight title. The Utes own 14 of 17 NCAA Midwest Region championships ... Utah's three losses this year (7-3) is its most in a decade. The 1988 Utes finished 16-3, won the Midwest regional and finished second at the NCAA Championships ... Utah finished the regular season ranked as follows on the four apparatus: vault 5th, bars 3rd, beam 2nd, floor 8th ... Utah's competitive roster lists one senior, three juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen ... For the second straight year, Jenny Schmidt will miss nationals due to a knee injury. The sophomore was lost for the entire 1998 campaign following preseason knee surgery.

NCAA TEAM QUALIFIERS
1. Georgia 198.575 (Southeast), 2. Florida 197.075 (Southeast), 3. Alabama 196.550 (Central), 4. Washington 196.150 (West), 5. Michigan 196.000 (Central), 6. Utah 195.575 (Midwest), 7. Brigham Young 195.500 (Midwest), 8. LSU 195.250 (Central), 9. North Carolina State 195.125 (Southeast), 10. UCLA 195.100 (West), 11. Arizona State 195.025 (Midwest), 12. Penn State 194.600 (Northeast).

SEEDS & SESSIONS, APRIL 17

1 p.m. (odd seeds)
No. 1 Georgia/Heather Brink (Nebraska)
No. 3 Alabama/Christy Denson (Utah State)
No. 5 Michigan/Kara Fry (Arizona)
No. 7 Brigham Young/Ashley Burkholder (Kentucky)
No. 9 NC State/Tenli Poggemeyer (Arizona)
No. 11 Arizona State/Megan Murphy (Oregon State)

7:30 p.m. (even seeds)
No. 2 Florida/Lindsey Vagedes (Ohio State)
No. 4 Washington/Susan Eckman (Ohio State)
No. 6 Utah/Diane Loosli (Boise State)
No. 8 LSU/Johanna Evans (Boise State)
No. 10 UCLA/Mindy Farmer (Ohio State)
No. 12 Penn State/Sandy Menard (No. Illinois)

WHO WINS WHEN
Thursday's competition determines just one champion--the all-around winner. The main purpose of the Thursday competition is to qualify teams into the Super Six the following night, where the team champion will be crowned. The top three teams from each session on Thursday--regardless of score--advance to the Super Six. On Saturday, the individual event champions will be determined. They earned a berth in the finals by placing in the top eight (including ties) during Thursday's action.

UTAH AND THE SUPER SIX
Utah has made the Super Six in four of its five years. The Utes failed to make the cut for the first time last year, finishing seventh. The three-day format began in 1993, with Utah finishing third in the nation. The Utes won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1994 and 1995. In 1996, Utah tied for third with Georgia. Although they own two of the five NCAA Championships awarded in the Super Six format, the Utes have never won a qualifying round.

UTAH'S ROTATION
As the No. 6 seed competing in the evening on Thursday, Utah will rotate to events as follows: I-Bye, II-Beam, III-Floor, IV-Bye, V-Vault, VI-Bars.

PRE-NCAA PRESS CONFERENCE
The head coach and one gymnast from all 12 teams will be available at a pre-NCAA Championships press conference on Wed., April 15 at 3 p.m. in the Los Angeles Tennis Center, located just southwest of Pauley Pavilion (outside gate 7).

NATIONAL NOTABLES
Four teams have been crowned champion in the 16-year history of the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships: Utah (9), Alabama (3), Georgia (3) and UCLA (1). Utah has a record 10 total national championships, including the 1981 AIAW title ... There have been seven different runners-up at the NCAA Championships since they began in 1982: Alabama (4), Arizona State (4), Utah (3), UCLA (2), Georgia (1), Michigan (1) and Cal State-Fullerton (1) ... The closest NCAA Championships ever were in 1994 and 1989. In 1994, Utah edged Alabama 196.400-196.350. In 1989, Georgia nipped runner-up UCLA 192.650-192.600 ... The best score ever at nationals was Alabama's 198.025 in 1996 ... The lowest seed ever to win the NCAA title was a No. 5 seed. Both Utah (1994) and Georgia (1989) accomplished that feat ... The NCAA champion has won its qualifying session just twice in its five years under this format: 1993 (Georgia) and 1996 (Alabama). Utah won in 1994 and 1995, after finishing second and third, respectively, in the qualifying round. UCLA won in 1997 after placing second in its qualifying round.

MORE NCAA NOTES
UCLA is hosting its second NCAA Championship. The Bruins last hosted the event in 1984, with Utah winning its fourth-consecutive national championship. UCLA finished runner-up ... The Midwest, Central and Southeast regionals each qualified three teams into nationals. The West sent two teams and the Northeast one ... North Carolina State is the only first-timer in the 1998 NCAA field. Other 1998 qualifiers and their number of trips to the NCAA Championships: Utah (17), Florida (17), Alabama (16), Georgia (15), UCLA (15), Arizona State (14), Penn State (12), LSU (11), BYU (6), Michigan (6), Washington (5).

SERIES TALK
Against the 1998 NCAA Championships field, Utah owns an all-time combined record of 225-43-2 (84%). Utah's series record by team (postseason only in parentheses): Georgia 15-6-1 (11-5-1), Florida 18-1 (16-0), Alabama 14-11 (10-6), Washington 23-0 (5-0), Michigan 7-3 (4-2), Brigham Young 59-2 (21-0), LSU 18-0 (15-0), NC State 0-0 (0-0), Arizona State 49-14-1 (30-7), Penn State 22-6 (10-5).

THIS YEAR VS. THE FIELD
Utah is 4-2 this year against other qualifiers to the NCAA Championships. The Utes went 2-1 against BYU, 1-0 vs. Arizona State, 1-0 vs. Washington, and 0-1 against Michigan. Both of Utah's losses were on the road. Its win over Washington was in Seattle and over ASU was in Tempe. Utah's wins over BYU were in Salt Lake City and in Tempe (at regionals).

REGION RECAP
Utah held a comfortable lead three quarters of the way through the NCAA Midwest Region Championship in Tempe, Ariz., but some unexpected trouble on floor made things close at the end. Despite the shaky ending, the Utes claimed their 11th straight region title by scoring a 195.575 to defeat Brigham Young (195.500) and 1997 NCAA runner-up Arizona State (195.025). Freshman Shannon Bowles placed second all-around (39.150) to lead the Utes. Senior All-American Traci Sommer preserved Utah's win with a sensational 9.875 floor performance. Sommer had a big night for the Utes, scoring a 9.875 on beam and a 9.80 on vault. Utah opened the night with a 49.075 vault set, its second best of the year on that event. The Utes went 48.85 on bars and increased their lead on beam with a 49.225--their second best score of the season on that event as well. All-arounder Denise Jones scratched from beam and floor prior to the meet due to a back injury. Replacement Marilyn Ekdahl fell on floor, as did freshman Theresa Wolf, but upperclass Utes Sommer (9.875), Ashley Kever (9.85) and Angie Leonard (9.775) righted the team.

UTES LEAD NATION'S ATTENDANCE
Utah returned to the top of the gymnastics attendance race, averaging 10,211 in its five home meets. Alabama, which edged Utah last year, finished its five-meet schedule with a 9,815 average. It is the fifth season that the Utes have averaged 10,000 in the Huntsman Center, where they have averaged 10,900 over the last seven years. Utah's crowds this year: 11,522 (Arizona), 11,468 (BYU), 9,116 (Minnesota), 9,934 (Utah State) and 9,015 (Oregon State).

TRAINER'S TABLE
Sophomore Jenny Schmidt underwent surgery on Dec. 27 to repair the patellar tendon in her right knee and is out for the season. Injured but expected to compete are Angie Leonard (shin) and Denise Jones (back).

UTAH COACH GREG MARSDEN
Utah's Greg Marsden, the most successful coach in collegiate gymnastics history, is in his 23rd year at the U. He owns a 666-92-3 record (88%). He is 334-43-1 (88%) in regular season competitions. His ten national championships is triple that of any other coach. Four of those titles have come in the '90s (1990, '92, '94, '95). Fourteen of Marsden's teams have placed in the top-two nationally. The only coach in Utah's gymnastics history, Marsden is a seven-time national coach of the year selection.

UTE NOTES
Including regionals, Utah is 5-0 at neutral sites and 3-3 in road meets ... Utah has completed a 49.00 circuit twice this year--against Brigham Young (196.825) and Washington (196.225) ... Uneven bars produced Utah's highest score in eight meets, including a season-best score (for any event) 49.475 vs. Utah State on Feb. 27 ... Utah has had just one "perfect" meet--hitting all 24 routines against BYU in Salt Lake City on Feb. 6. The Utes have twice gone 23 of 24 (road meets at Washington and BYU), had two falls three times (Arizona, Utah State and Oregon State), three falls twice (Minnesota and at the Midwest Regional), four falls twice (at Utah State and Stanford) and five falls once (at Michigan) ... Utah has hit 239 of 264 routines (91%). The breakdown by event: Vault 63-66, Bars 62-66, Beam 53-66, Floor 61-66.

SOMMERTIME
Utah's only senior, Traci Sommer, an all-arounder her first three years at Utah, is starring on three events this year. Sommer has been a rock, hitting 26 of 27 routines (she sat out two meets with knee and back injuries). She has not had a fall since the first meet of the year, when she fell on beam. A two-time first-team balance beam All-American, Sommer has averaged just under a 9.90 on beam in her last seven meets. She received a perfect 10 on March 14--the second 10.0 of her career and the first since her freshman year. She had a season-best 9.925 floor score the week before against Oregon State. She was sensational at regionals, securing Utah's victory with a 9.875 floor routine. She also had a 9.875 on beam and a 9.80 on vault. Although she has not cracked the bar lineup this year, Sommer has a fine all-around history: She has 18 career 39.00 all-arounds and owns the fifth-best score in history (39.70, Mar. 7, 1997). In her career, she has "hit" 159 of 178 routines (89%). Her breakdown by year: 46-51 (1995), 42-47 (1996), 45-53 (1997), 26-27 (1998). This year she tied one career high--a 10.0 on beam. Her season bests: vault 9.85, bars 9.625, beam 10.0 and floor 9.925.

ALL-AMERICA ANGIE
Junior All-American Angie Leonard finished the regular season ranked seventh in the nation in the all-around (39.225 RQS). The final rankings also found Leonard at No. 10 on bars (9.894 RQS). She has been limited in her training due to a shin injury, but is planning to go all-around at nationals. Despite her injury, she went all-around in every meet but one (BYU on Mar. 21). She is second on the team in wins with 13 and tied for first in all-around wins (3). Her 39.60 all-around score against Utah State on Feb. 27 is tied for the best score of the year by a Ute and the eighth-best score in school history. Her six 39.00 or better all-around scores is second best on the team. Leonard has 14 career 39.00 all-around scores. Utah's best bar worker suffered a rare fall (on her dismount) at regionals--the first on bars since her freshman year. The fall marred an otherwise fine regional meet for Leonard, who scored a 9.825 on vault, a 9.850 on beam and a 9.775 on floor. She finished with a 38.80 all-around score. Her five bar victories this year is the most on a single event by a Ute. In her career, she has 16 bar wins. Her victory breakdown this season: bars (5), all-around (3), vault (2), floor (2), beam (1). Utah's most consistent upper-class all-arounder, Leonard has hit 122 of 135 (90%) routines in her career. On bars, she is an amazing 35 of 37. On all events this season, she is 37 of 42. Leonard has set or tied two personal bests this year--9.925 on beam and 9.925 on floor (tie). Her season bests: all-around 39.60, vault 9.85 (twice), bars 9.95, beam (9.925), floor (9.925).

SHANNON SHINES
Freshman sensation Shannon Bowles was the Midwest Region all-around runner-up with a 39.150. Bowles tallied a 9.875 on vault, 9.825 on bars, 9.850 on beam and 9.600 on floor (where she stepped out of bounds). The current U.S. National Team member finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the nation in the all-around (39.225 RQS). She placed fifth on vault (9.887) and beam (9.894) in the final rankings. Bowles leads Utah in victories with 14 and is tied for most all-around wins (3). Her seven 39.00 all-arounds is best on the team. Bowles tied the eighth highest all-around score in school history with her 39.60 against BYU on Feb. 6. She followed with a 39.50 against Minnesota on Feb. 13. Bowles is one of just two Utes to score a 10 this year (Traci Sommer is the other). She and Sommer (now a senior) are the only Utes ever to score a 10 as freshmen. She has the second best score by a Ute this year as well: a winning 9.95 vault at BYU on Mar. 21. Bowles won at least one event in seven meets. She has gone all-around nine times, doing three events in the season-opener and competing only on bars at Washington due to a foot injury. Bowles' individual victory breakdown follows: beam (4), vault (4), all-around (3), floor (2), bars (1). She won her collegiate all-around debut on January 23 at Michigan, scoring a 39.25. She has the most 9.875-or-better scores on the team (16): 5 on beam, 5 on bars, 5 on vault, 1 on floor. The rookie has hit 37 of 40 routines this season (93%). Her highs by event: all-around 39.60, vault 9.95, bars 9.90 (twice), beam 10.0, floor 9.875.

MORE ON THE UTES
Marilyn Ekdahl--Freshman will compete on bars ... is also possible substitute on vault and floor ... made bar lineup in every meet ... vaulted to count six times and competed on floor twice ... scored 9.825 on March 21 in first time out on floor ... broke career uneven bar high two weeks running: then-best 9.85 at Washington on Feb. 20 and new high 9.875 against Utah State on Feb. 27 ... on vault has twice scored 9.75 (vs. Arizona and Minnesota) ... just two misses all year--one on vault and one on floor ... is 17 of 19 ... best scores this year by event: vault 9.75 (twice), bars 9.875, floor 9.825.

Denise Jones--All-arounder might be limited to two or three events at nationals due to back injury ... competed on only vault and bars at regionals, but hopes to return to at least floor lineup by nationals ... nice job in limited role at regionals: 9.775 on vault and 9.825 on bars ... reached 39.00 in last three all-around attempts and was runner-up in each meet (39.10 vs. Stanford, 39.125 vs. Oregon State, 39.05 vs. BYU) ... four total 39.00 all-around scores ... has two wins--both on bars (BYU and OSU, tie) ... career highs set this year: all-around 39.25, bars 9.90, floor 9.85 (tie) ... season-bests: 39.25 all-around, bars 9.90, beam 9.825, floor 9.85 (tie) ... has hit 32 of 38 routines ... 83 of 92 (90%) in her career. Ashley Kever--Will likely be in beam and floor lineup at nationals ... scored 9.65 on beam and 9.85 on floor at regionals ... competed on floor in every meet ... made beam team six times ... has scored below 9.70 on floor just once and that was in first meet of season ... averaging 9.8 in last six meets ... season bests are 9.80 on beam and 9.85 on floor (twice) ... has hit 14 of 17 routines this year ... all three misses were on beam, but she has hit three of the last four.

Molly Northrop--Second-team beam All-American is one of best lead-off performers in country ... also great bar worker ... very consistent two-event performer has been in bar lineup every meet and in beam lineup in 10 of 11 ... had great regional meet, scoring 9.825 on bars and beam ... tied career- best on beam at regionals (9.825) ... has missed just one routine all year (on beam, Feb. 27) ... nine 9.80 or better scores this year ... career high 9.90 on bars on Feb. 6 ... won first event of career on Feb. 6, when she tied for first on bars ... is 20 of 21 this season (95%). Sarah Northrop--Although she has competed just five bar routines all year, she has solidified hold on lead-off spot for nationals ... gives Utah big-score capability right away ... could also fill in on vault if necessary ... competed two events (vault and bars) three times ... sprained both knees and one ankle on opening vault against Oregon State ... returned to bar lineup for regular season finale ... 9.70 on bars at regionals ... averaging just under 9.80 on bars ... tied career vault high in first try of season, against BYU on Feb. 6 (9.80) ... season bar best of 9.85. Angelika Schatton--In vault lineup every meet ... frequent substitute on both beam and floor could fill in if necessary at nationals ... beautiful vault at regionals scored 9.80, tying career high ... best three-event outing was at BYU on Mar. 21: 9.65 vault, 9.775 beam, 9.725 floor ... averages just under 9.75 on vault ... career and season bests on vault (9.80, twice), beam (9.80) and floor (9.75) ... is 17 of 19 for season. Jenny Schmidt--Surgery on Dec. 27 to repair patellar tendon in her right knee ... injured while training uneven bars prior to Christmas ... was coming back from season-ending knee surgery last year (Mar. 7, same knee) ... missed entire 1998 season.

Theresa Wolf--Returned from injury list to compete three events at regionals ... led off Utah's vault set with 9.675 and scored 9.825 on beam and 9.325 on floor (fell) ... probable to compete those three events again at nationals ... missed two meets prior to regionals with heel contusion suffered at Stanford on Mar. 6 ... competed all-around twice ... career-best 39.175 all-around at Washington on Feb. 20 ... also had "bests" on vault (9.725, tie) and beam (9.85, tie) in Washington meet ... 38.80 all- around at Michigan ... personal best 9.90 on floor against USU on Feb. 27 ... has received 9.80 or better on floor in 7 of 8 attempts ... missed three meets with injury or illness ... 9.875 on floor was Utah's top score on any event at Stanford ... won two straight floor competitions (Utah State, Feb. 2 and BYU, Feb. 6) ... has hit 20 of 25 routines.

GOLDEN UTES
Below is a list of Ute individual winners this season (includes ties)

Shannon Bowles (14)
All-Around (3):
39.25 vs. Michigan, Jan. 23
39.60 vs. Brigham Young, Feb. 6
39.50 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 13
Vault (4):
9.925 vs. Brigham Young, Feb. 6
9.925 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 13
9.900 vs. Utah State, Feb. 27
9.950 vs. Brigham Young, Mar. 21
Bars (1):
9.875 vs. Utah State, Feb. 2
Beam (4):
9.875 vs. Arizona, Jan. 16
9.875 vs. Utah State, Feb. 2
10.00 vs. Brigham Young, Feb. 6
9.875 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 13
Floor (2):
9.875 vs. Arizona, Jan. 16
9.800 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 13

Angie Leonard (13) All-Around (3): 39.05 vs. Arizona, Jan. 16 39.60 vs. Utah State, Feb. 27 39.15 vs. Oregon State, Mar. 14 Vault (2): 9.825 vs. Arizona, Jan. 16 9.800 vs. Utah State, Feb. 2 Bars (5): 9.875 vs. Arizona, Jan. 16 9.875 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 13 9.900 vs. Washington, Feb. 20 9.950 vs. Utah State, Feb. 27 9.850 vs. Oregon State, Mar. 14 Beam (1): 9.925 vs. Utah State, Feb. 27 Floor (2): 9.800 vs. Minnesota, Feb. 13 9.925 vs. Utah State, Feb. 27

Traci Sommer (4) Beam (3): 9.950 vs. Washington, Feb. 20 9.925 vs. Utah State, Feb. 27 10.00 vs. Oregon State, Mar. 14 Floor (1): 9.925 vs. Oregon State, Mar. 14

Theresa Wolf (2) Floor (2): 9.850 vs. Utah State, Feb. 2 9.850 vs. Brigham Young, Feb. 6

Denise Jones (2) Bars (2): 9.900 vs. Brigham Young, Feb. 6 9.850 vs. Oregon State, Mar. 14

Molly Northrop (1) Bars (1): 9.900 vs. Brigham Young, Feb. 6

WHAT'S IN ROUND ONE
Georgia--Southeast Region champion scored NCAA record 198.575 ... SEC champion ... 19-0 regular season record ... Karin Lichey (39.875) and Kim Arnold (39.725, twice) are top all- arounders ... Coach Suzanne Yoculan is 286-40-2 in 15 years. Alabama--Central Region champion ... fourth at SEC Championships ... high score of 196.95 ... 10-3 regular season record ... top all- arounders are Gwynn Spidele (39.325) and Mandy Chapman (39.30) ... Coach Sarah Pattersonis 362-54 in 20 years. Michigan--Central Region runner-up ... Big 10 runner-up ... 15-6 regular season record ... high score of 197.55 (twice) ... top all-arounders are Heather Kabnick (39.675), Sarah Cain (39.650) and Lisa Simes (39.525) ... Coach Beverly Plocki is 167-51 in 9 years. Brigham Young--Midwest Region runner-up ... 8-3 regular season record ... season-best 196.050 ... top all-arounders are Angela Andersen (39.45) and Kelly Christensen (39.075) ... Coach Brad Cattermole is 116-91-1 in 9 years. NC State--Third at Southeast Region meet ... making first-ever NCAA appearance ... 18-7 regular season record ... best score was 195.45 ... top all-arounder is Jenny Sommer (39.075) ... Mark Stevenson is 210-137 in 18 years. Arizona State--Third at Midwest Region ... 24-4 regular season record ... defending NCAA runner-up ... best score of 196.050 ... Elizabeth Reid is defending NCAA beam champion (tied with Utah's Summer Reid) ... no all-arounders ... Coach John Spini is 237-77-1 in 18 years.

WHAT'S IN ROUND TWO
Florida--Southeast Region runner-up ... SEC runner-up ... season-best 197.075 at regionals ... 10-4 regular season record ... top all-arounders are Betsy Hamm (39.50) and Chrissy Van Fleet (39.375) ... Coach Judy Markell is 64-34-1 in 6 years at Florida (342-121-2 in 24 years total). Washington--West Region champion ... fifth at Pac-10 Championships ... high score of 196.150 at regionals ... top all-arounders are Tiffany Simpson (39.650) and Klara Kudilkova (39.625) ... Coach Bob Levesque is 87-66 in 8 years. Utah--Midwest Region champion ... high score of 196.825 ... 7-3 regular season record ... top all-arounders are Shannon Bowles (39.60) and Angie Leonard (39.60) ... Coach Greg Marsden is 666-92-3 in 23 years. LSU--Third at Central Region ... third at SEC Championships ... 15-7 regular season record ... top all-arounders are Amy McClosky (39.525) and Stephanie Hyett (39.30) ... Coach Dee-Dee Breaux is 341-212-6 in 21 years. UCLA--West Region runner-up ... defending NCAA champion ... fourth at Pac-10 Championships ... best score is 195.30 ... top all-arounders are Stella Umeh (39.60), Heidi Moneymaker (39.375), Lena Degteva (39.325) and Kiralee Hayashi (39.275) ... Coach Valorie Kondos is 162-36 in 8 years. Penn State--Northeast Region champion ... third at Big 10 Championships ... 9-5 regular season record ... season best 195.725 ... Coach Steve Shephard is 84-49 in 5 years.

MARSDEN ON NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
"The field just seems to get stronger every year. Each year there are more teams competing at the highest level as college gymnastics continues to develop parity. An indication of the parity would be last year's No. 1 and 2 teams are going in as 10 and 11. They are fully capable of being in contention for the title. Each year it becomes more of a challenge to get into the championships. Certainly there are probably some teams that should be in that are not; i.e., Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon State and West Virginia, so you have to feel good any time your team does well enough at regionals to make nationals. That has become more of a challenge in the last few years. The one exception to the increased parity might be Georgia. As is often the case, they (the Bulldogs) appear to be the runaway favorite going into the championships. But, if they falter, there are a number of teams that could mount a challenge."

MARSDEN ON THE SESSIONS
"There are so many strong teams now that both sessions are extremely tough in terms of advancing into the Super Six. The nice thing about the evening session is there's usually a bigger crowd and the enthusiasm can be helpful. The downside (to the late session) is that it's a quick turnaround if you advance to get back to the hotel, eat, get treatments and get to bed at a decent hour. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both sessions."

MARSDEN ON UTAH'S ROTATION
"It's a tough rotation (bye, beam, floor, bye, vault, bars) in the sense that you're sitting around with a lot of anxiety waiting to start on balance beam, which is the event that has the potential of exposing your anxiety more than any other. We know what we face in advance though, and hopefully we'll be well prepared for it. We'll know early in the competition whether we have a realistic chance of winning it."

MARSDEN ON THE UTES
"I think we're poised to have a good competition, assuming we can go in relatively healthy. Angie's leg and Denise's back continue to be issues. We're trying to manage those injuries so that they can compete, but it's unpredictable. We'll prepare other people just in case. When you get to this point of the season, you have to go in prepared and confident and then have a little bit of luck in terms of avoiding injuries and illness. Another intangible is how your freshmen will compete in a such a pressure-packed environment. I still don't feel like we've had the meet we're capable of and my hope is that we've saved it for the last."

 

 

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