Coming off their best meet of the season, the No. 4 Red Rocks (6-0, 2-0 Pac-12) hosts Arizona State (1-6, 0-2 Pac-12) tonight at 6 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. Pre-meet introductions begin at 5:45 p.m.
Arizona State is led by first year coach Rene Lyst, who spent the previous 13 seasons as the co-head coach at Arkansas. Utah will see a familiar face competing for ASU in former Red Rock Taylor Allex. ASU's only win on the season was over No. 21 Southern Utah. They posted their highest score (194.400) in a loss at Kentucky. Their top all-around gymnast is Allie Salas (39.05 high).
Utah is led by co-head coaches Greg and Megan Marsden. They split the 2014 Pac-12 Coach of the Year award. Greg is in his 40th season at Utah and is the NCAA career leader in wins (1,024-205-7). Megan is in her sixth year as co-head coach (31 total years on staff) and has a career record of 108-44-1. Utah's 197.850 against Arizona is tied for the highest meet score on the season with No. 1 Oklahoma. (The strength of that score helped Utah leap over Michigan for the No. 4. spot. The Red Rocks will face Michigan head-to-head on March 6 in Salt Lake City.)
Utah will return home in front of the always raucous crowd at the Huntsman Center. In their first two meets, Utah has averaged 14,564 fans, with a season-high attendance of 14,873 for their Jan. 23 win over No. 11 UCLA. Utah owns every NCAA gymnastics attendance record, including the most people ever to watch a collegiate gymnastics meet (15,558 vs. Florida in 2011) and highest season attendance average (14,376 in 2014). The atmosphere at home meets is a big draw for gymnasts to come to Utah.
Utah is scheduled to have three gymnasts compete for the all-around: senior All-American Georgia Dabritz (who will anchor vault, bars and floor) and is first in the nation in all-around score for the third week in a row (39.625), senior All-American Tory Wilson (one all-around win on the season), and sophomore Baely Rowe. All three posted season best all-around scores last week against Arizona (Dabritz 39.70, Wilson 39.50, and Rowe 39.35). Dabritz has a team high eleven wins so far this season. Dabritz is also ranked in the top 10 on floor (No. 2), bars (No. 3) and vault (tied for No. 3). Utah's best event ranking is No. 4 on both bars (49.275 average) and beam (49.175 average). Corrie Lothrop will anchor the team on beam, an event she is an All-American on.
Freshman Kari Lee's win on beam last week against Arizona was the first event win for a Utah freshman since Dabritz had 12 wins and Kailah Delaney had five wins as freshmen in 2012. Senior All-American Becky Tutka has only competed once this season (in floor against UCLA) due to injury. She is hoping to return to floor against Arizona State. Having her healthy would be huge for Utah since she was a first-team All-American on floor in 2014.
Television will be provided on the Pac-12 Network. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a remake of the 1994 Utah gymnastics poster (see Tweet below). For the 40th anniversary of the gymnastics programs, 70 former Utah gymnasts will attend Friday's meet and a banquet on Saturday.
In honor of the 40th season for gymnastics, here are several Tweets with some cool throw back pictures.
Shading the Sun Devils:
Co-head coach Greg Marsden won his 1,000th meet the last time the Red Rocks faced ASU. Utah is 68-16-1 all-time against Arizona State (33-2 in Salt Lake City). The Red Rocks have won 17 straight since falling at home to the Sun Devils in 2003.
The Red Rocks have faced and beaten four ranked teams so far this season, Southern Utah (21), Arizona (18), Boise State (15), and UCLA (T11). Left on the Utes schedule are Cal (20), Washington (17), Stanford (13), Oregon State (10), Georgia (9), and Michigan (5). So... why is national ranking and regional seeding based on just scores, not who you actually face (and beat)?