The effect they've had on the record books belonging to the University of Utah and the NCAA is well-documented. The effect they've had on Salt Lake City? That was underscored Monday night when a mostly paid crowd of 14,978 fans turned out in the Huntsman Center to bid farewell to Ute seniors Shelly Schaerrer and Missy Marlowe.
They still have another home meet, the NCAA Regional April 11, but Monday night was their last regular-season appearance in the Huntsman, and it attracted the third-largest crowd in NCAA women's gymnastics history to watch them be honored in a pre-meet ceremony."I got the feeling like they were all my friends I've had with me the whole four years," said Schaerrer of the crowd. They were on her side through the bad times and the good, she said.
"I was a wreck," admitted Marlowe, talking about standing in the tunnel waiting to be introduced, listening to the announcer say that eight-year Ute trainer Jeff Wilcox is leaving to pursue further studies at the U. That got Marlowe the most. "When he talked about `Schmeff' I was in tears," she said.
"I'm way too emotional, but I'm glad I'm like that because a get a lot more out of things," Marlowe said.
"I was numb tonight," she said.
For the record - definitely for the record - Utah broke its school mark again with 196.75 to Penn State's 191.5, and Marlowe and junior Kristen Kenoyer had twin 10s, Kenoyer on beam and Marlowe on floor.
If not for Marlowe's fall on beam, the Utes would have broken Georgia's NCAA-record of 196.9.
Marlowe's 10 completed the cycle for her. She was the first NCAA gymnast to score 10 in three events when she got one in vault last week; now she's had a 10 in all four events. She had one on beam Feb. 7 and twice scored 10s on bars last year.
While it was supposed to be Senior Night, Kenoyer stole some thunder from the two near-graduates, tying the NCAA all-around record of 39.65 set two weeks ago by Oregon State's Chari Knight, who broke Marlowe's old record of 39.6.
"I didn't do it on purpose!" Kenoyer said. "I've just been getting more confident."
Kenoyer won the March 2 meet with Oregon State with 39.5, beating Marlowe and Knight, who each fell. She has the best back-to-back all-around scores in the NCAA (Knight's were 39.35-39.65).
Marlowe and Schaerrer tied for second all-around at 39.2, and each had a career high in an event, Marlowe with the 10 on floor and Schaerrer with 9.9 on beam. Schaerrer added a season-best 9.8 in vaulting.
"I couldn't have scripted it any better," said coach Greg Marsden. "Shelly and Missy have great nights in their own right, but Kristen steps up and makes a statement for the rest of the team that it's not a two-person team. It's a group of great athletes. We're going to continue to be a strong program in years to come."
Marsden was gratified by the size of the crowd, since no real promotion was in effect. "I cannot believe this whole year, the support from the community," he said. Utah has averaged 12,577 fans in its five home meets.
In their freshman debuts in 1989, Schaerrer and Marlowe performed before 4,337, and the hometown crowd in the Salt Palace that helped Marlowe make the 1988 U.S. Olympic team was 9,506.
"It was hard to concentrate," said Schaerrer. "There was so much adrenalin it was hard to contain it."
"It's hard to find this kind of enthusiasm in basketball and football," added Marlowe.
Marlowe and Kenoyer both opened with 9.9 vaults and 9.95 bar routines, and Utah set a school bars record, 49.4.
Penn State also set a school bars record, 48.6, and had 9.9 in vault, by Allison Barber. If not for four weak beams, the Lions might have reached their record score (193), too. "They just got cautious," said coach Judi Avener. "Maybe it was the crowd."
Kenoyer's 10 on beam was set up by 9.9s by Schaerrer and Jenny Donaldson.
"It was incredible. I was amazed," said Kenoyer of her first-ever 10. "I knew it was a good routine, but 10s are just rare. Judges don't give them too often."
Marlowe, though, now has five of them, tying Georgia's Hope Spivey, who's had five 10s in floor exercise.
Marlowe said she thought of changing her middle tumbling pass, on which she'd had "a minor catastrophe (fall)" last week, "but I thought, what kind of attitude would that be?" she said. She got through it fine Monday but couldn't relax. "No, because I've messed up my last pass too many times," she laughed.
"If I was going to miss that last pass," she said, recalling her determination, "it would have been over-rotated, not under, because I've under-rotated it all year. I just went as hard as I could and had just enough adrenalin to finish it," she said.
And finish the cycle. Now the Utah standard in each event is 10, and Marlowe's name can't be erased from the records because you can't do better.