Coach Megan Marsden talks about what fans can expect to see this season with the Ute Gymnastics team.
Friday’s Utah Gymnastics meet is the 2011 opener for both teams and marks the ninth time Utah has opened the season against the Bruins and the eighth time in the last nine years (the exception was in 2008, when Utah opened against Georgia). Utah is 6-2 in season openers against the Bruins, winning in 1985, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. UCLA won the kickoff meet in 2003 and 2010.
The meet is on Friday January 7th at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center and tickets are available at www.UtahUtes.com, or by calling 801-581-UTIX and at the Huntsman Center box office. The Utah-UCLA meet will be televised tape-delayed on Sunday, Jan. 9 at 11 a.m. MT on ABC-4. Free live scores and video streaming can be found on www.UtahUtes.com.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Utah is the only program in the nation to qualify for the last 35 national championships, while UCLA’s 28 national championship appearances is tied for third overall. Since the NCAA began sponsoring women’s athletics, Utah (9) and UCLA (6) have combined to win 15 of the 29 NCAA Championships. Utah also has an AIAW national championship (1981).
Since 2000, Utah has accumulated four second-place national finishes (2000, 2006, 2007 and 2008). Utah finished third in 2005 and 2009 and has qualified for the Super Six every year of the millennium. The Utes finished sixth at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
Even with half the roster made up of freshmen, Utah was picked fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll. Pegged to defend its 2010 NCAA title was UCLA, which received 38 of a possible 42 first-place votes. The Utes will face seven teams in the preseason top 10 in 2011, starting with the top-ranked Bruins on Jan. 7 in the Huntsman Center. The preseason top 10 follows: 1. UCLA, 2. Alabama, 3. Florida, 4. Oklahoma, 5. Utah, 6. Stanford, 7. Georgia, 8. Oregon State, 9. Michigan, 10. Nebraska.
Utah has two All-Americans on its 2011 roster: Senior Kyndal Robarts is a two-time first-team All-American, winning honors on vault in 2008 and beam in 2010, while junior Stephanie McAllister was a second-team All-American on bars last year … Projected all-arounders for this Friday’s meet are McAllister (39.375 career best) and freshman Corrie Lothrop. Lothrop, an alternate on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and a member of the U.S. National Team from 2006-2008, is considered one of the nation’s top recruits … Utah has one of the younger teams in the country with six freshmen on its 12-member squad. A seventh freshman, Alyssa Gale of Simi, Calif., has retired from the sport due to lingering problems after three knee surgeries. Out for this Friday’s meet is freshman Victoria Stanley of Colorado Springs, Colo., who has been sidelined since Dec. 16 when she was diagnosed with mononucleosis … As many as 10 of Utah’s 24 routines against UCLA are expected to be performed by freshmen … Also making his first appearance in the Huntsman Center is new Ute assistant coach Tom Farden. Farden, a former head coach at Southeast Missouri State, spent last year as an assistant at Arkansas. He was 70-46 in six years as SEMO’s head coach and was named the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional Coach of the Year. Farden is coaching the uneven bars and assisting with the floor exercise for the Utes.
Utah leads the series with UCLA 42-16-1 though UCLA holds a 15-14-1 advantage since 1995. Utah had won nine straight (10, including a tie-breaker at the 2009 NCAA Championships) before losing all three matchups with the Bruins last year. Utah is 21-1 against UCLA in Salt Lake City with the sole loss coming in the 2003 season opener.
For more information go to www.UtahUtes.com. For tickets call 801-581-UTIX and at the Huntsman Center box office.