Apr 19, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Utah Utes gymnast Lia Del Priore competes in the floor exercise during semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Women
Editors Note: We at Hoyo’s Revenge are proud to have Brittany G back to give us all a lesson in gymnastics. And unlike all other Utes Gymnastics coverage, she lets you know you should be a little bit upset. She’s about to drop some Red Rocks truth on y’all.
Remember last week when I said I didn’t want to talk about beam? Well…let’s talk about beam, baby.
This week, the Utes headed to California to compete against the then-30th place Cal Golden Bears, who don’t have a “creative” name for their women’s gymnastics team (presumably because they’re only ranked 30th and don’t have that much of a following). I’ll call them the Gym Bears because that’s the extent of the “creativity” of most college gymnastics team names.
Friday’s meet wasn’t on TV or live streamed, so my analysis will have to come entirely from a stat sheet, which is convenient because it allows me to go off on a nice tangent about how much our beam sucks.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about all the good things…
The Utes were in fine form on their first three rotations, starting with no falls this week on bars (I told you the two falls were an anomaly). There were apparently some short handstands, but a good score with a 49.325. This needs to be *slightly* higher by the end of the season, but for the second meet and the first away meet, it’s fantastic.
On vault, Kailah Delaney scored a 9.95 on her second week back. Tory Wilson made up for last week’s big step with a huge vault and a perfect score from one judge, scoring a 9.975 combined. Utah scored a team total 49.500. Fantastic! That’s the highest vault score for any team this season, and it means Utah is in first place on vault right now!
Speaking of first place, Utah is also tied at the top of the rankings on the floor, and their 49.475 Friday shows why.
Georgia Dabritz topped the floor scores with a 9.95 to go with her 9.90s on both vault and bars. That puts her at a 39.750 after three rotations. She would have to have scored less than a 9.700 on the beam to not win the all-around competition (Tory Wilson won AA with a 39.450). The coaches are apparently concerned that Georgia isn’t good enough for the beam right now…so I guess she wobbles more than the other gymnasts? Or she falls more often? I guess that’s possible.
Hopefully Georgia gets into the beam rotation by the end of the season, because she could be awesome at all-around. She did compete on beam later in the season last year (…and she fell in the same place every week until they switched her routine up, so she got better), so maybe that’s still to come.
Utah had a 148.300 after their first three rotations, which is exactly where they need to be at this point in the season (across the top NCAA programs, team high scores on the individual events are usually in the 49.40 or 49.50 range right now). They were on pace to score better than a 197.700, which would have been the top team score nationally so far this season.
But it’s beam, and we all know how that goes…terribly.
Utah had two falls (Mary Beth Lofgren and Baely Rowe) and some wobbles. They finished with a 48.575 on the beam. You don’t have to have a doctorate in statistics to recognize the outlier here. And it isn’t a one-time outlier. It’s a consistent, meet-after-meet outlier that has been going on for the last few years.
If this were football and one position consistently performed worse (and so obviously worse, too), the coach would have been out after one season. I’m running out of fingers to count the number of offensive coordinators Utah has hired in the last decade, but our beam has been a blatant problem and Megan Marsden (the beam coach) was not only not fired, but she has since been promoted.
You can guess why just by looking at her last name. Yes, Megan Marsden is a former Utah gymnast, wife to longtime head coach Greg Marsden and the current bane of my existence.
Greg Marsden can’t fire Megan because I assume he doesn’t want to sleep on the couch for the rest of forever. I don’t blame him for that. I DO blame him for letting his team and thousands of fans down because of it, though.
And I blame Dr. Chris Hill for letting it continue. Gymnastics isn’t as profitable as football and, I guess some could say not as important (pfft to you), but if a coach hired or promoted someone because they were friends or relatives, the athletic director should have fired him immediately. But that hasn’t happened with Marsden.
I have oodles of respect for Greg Marsden. He was told to make a women’s gymnastics program, not knowing anything about gymnastics, and quickly turned them into one of the most successful NCAA gymnastics programs in history. He has undoubtedly done so much for this program.
But Utah hasn’t won since the first half of the 1990s. Utah is no longer the team to beat or the team we assume will win championships. We aren’t even the team to beat in the Pac-12. There is respect for Utah historically, but not as much respect for Utah now.
We were sixth in the preseason polls this, which is the lowest I can remember us being preseason since I started going to Utah gymnastics meets back in the 90s. We are a program on the decline.
Utah gymnastics has the highest attendance rate of any female college sport every year. The fans deserve better than this. The fans deserve not to have Utah miss the Super Six because our beam is consistently statistically worse than the rest of our events. The fans deserve not to have Utah leading by a landslide going into their final event, only to literally fall apart.
We need to fix this problem instead of letting it fester and grow and become sickly and make our leg fall off (but a one-armed diseased gymnast would probably still be better at beam than Utah).
We’ve identified the problem. We know how to fix it. Let’s do it.