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SCHAERRER AND CO. READY TO VIE FOR ALL-AROUND TITLE

SHARE SCHAERRER AND CO. READY TO VIE FOR ALL-AROUND TITLE

Less than 24 hours before tonight's NCAA Gymnastics Championships at Oregon State, Utah sophomore Shelly Schaerrer had two things on her mind.

Number 1, of course, was winning the team title. Utah's the top seed, even the favorite, as long as it hits.Number 2 was what other people think about Schaerrer and teammates Kristi Pinnick, Kristen Kenoyer and Missy Marlowe, the Utah all-arounders who are conceivably good enough to finish in a bloc at the top of that individual event tonight. All four have scored 39.0 or better, the magical number that this year separates the good from the best.

All season, those four have battled for the spoils as Utah's best all-arounder. Each has had the honorary title in at least one meet. Each has had the feeling the others were passing her by. Currently, Schaerrer's the school record holder, thanks to her 39.15 at the NCAA Regional at Utah two weeks ago. Marlowe was the first in school history to break 39, then Pinnick, then Kenoyer and then Schaerrer, who has been the most consistent of the group all season.

"I would like people to know," says Schaerrer, "that there's not a lot of contention between gymnasts. We pull for each other. It would make me just as happy to see Missy on the stand, or Kristen or Kristi."

Besides that, Schaerrer, quoting assistant coach/former NCAA all-around champion Megan Marsden, says the all-around title would mean little to her without the team championship to go with it.

In last year's NCAA meet, Schaerrer came away with neither individual or team glory. Utah fell to fifth, its lowest finish in 10 years. Schaerrer fell in three of four events. Coach Greg Marsden never lets her forget that.

Much of Schaerrer's gymnastics life has been spent in Marlowe's shadow. Marlowe, the Olympian from Salt Lake City, had the pre-college career Schaerrer, from Orem, dreamed of. Schaerrer had the talent, says Marsden, but also too many injuries. Last year she started with a knee operation that prevented her from performing the way she knew she could. Last spring, she had another knee operation, and this one helped.

"When I started this season, my main goal was to be consistent," says Schaerrer, who succeeded so well that she produced 10 straight 38-plus performances, with five over 38.7.

Says Marsden, "She's as good as I've ever seen her. She's ready to have a good meet. And so are Kristen, Kristi and Missy."