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UTES, COUGARS CLASH TONIGHT IN WAC GYM CHAMPIONSHIPS

A week ago tonight, the Utah and Brigham Young women's gymnastics teams staged a memorable meet in the Marriott Center: The NCAA-record 197 score from Utah plus a near-school-record 194.2 from BYU made for perhaps the highest-scoring dual meet ever.

Five all-arounders in that tri-meet with Iowa scored 39.0 or above, three from Utah, two from BYU. To put that in perspective, there were five 39+ scores at last year's NCAA finals when Utah, Georgia, Alabama, Oregon State, Penn State, Florida, Louisiana State and BYU, etc., were all on the same floor. The Utes and Cougs also had 12 9.9 or better scores for the night; Utah counted nothing less than 9.9 in floor exercise.What do they do for an encore tonight when BYU hosts the Western Athletic Conference Championships at 7 in the Marriott Center with No. 1-ranked Utah (12-1) plus fifth-ranked BYU (11-7), 20th-ranked Boise State (12-7) and unranked Denver (3-9) and New Mexico (10-8)?

"What do you do after a 197 night?" asks Utah coach Greg Marsden.

There's really very little riding on tonight's meet for the Utes, who are pretty well set to go into the April 11 Midwest Regional at Utah as the top-seeded team regardless of tonight's outcome. "I'm really comfortable with our season average," he says. "We can always improve a little," he says, but adding a lot to their Regional Qualifying Score isn't likely.

Marsden worries about a letdown.

"This one scares me a little; I don't perceive a very good focus," he says. "We need to come up with some very specific things to accomplish."

That's what Utah's done all season - upgrade, refine and improve certain places and let that be the goal for the meet. Tonight's changes should include a slight difference in Missy Marlowe's bar routine and in her middle tumbling pass on floor, a change in Kristen Kenoyer's middle floor pass and a change in Jenny Donaldson's bar routine.

Marlowe, of course, has been perfect or close to it with both bars and floor routines in the last two weeks, and Kenoyer has had two 9.9s on floor in her last three meets, but Marsden hopes the changes will make the chance for mistakes even less. "I'd sure like to see those things work out and see what the effect is," Marsden says.

The Utes have worked hard in practice this week, in contrast to last week when they took most of the week to concentrate on academic exams. The Utes made minor mistakes early in the meet last week, then scored nothing below 9.8 in their last two events, perhaps because they were fresh from not having worked much. Marsden wonders how the Utes will finish tonight.

"I'd hate to take a step back," he says.

BYU has also worked hard this week, says coach Brad Cattermole, and the Cougs are also in a position where they don't need to score highly as a team to set themselves for the regional.

But the Cougs are still building their reputation, getting to the point where judges don't feel uncomfortable giving them 9.9s but "not to the point where we can depend upon that (reputation)," Cattermole says.

"They've been excited the last couple of weeks," Cattermole says of his gymnasts. "The scores are going up, and there's more of a feeling we're deserving those scores.

"I don't think there's real competition for the WAC championship," Cattermole concedes. "If we could get another 194, it would be real exciting." BYU could then replace a 192 score among the six scores that count toward the RQS.

"And I'd like to see the seniors go out with a big bang and have a successful, fun meet," Cattermole says.

It is the last time seniors Korie Jackman, Tammy Packard, Shauna Mertz and Lori McBride will perform on campus.

He hopes to clean up the extra steps the Cougs took in vaulting last week, and he says sophomore Christy McAdams, who scored 9.9 in vault last week, may be ready to try a second vault this week. She does a half-half-front layout as her main vault, and if she hits that, she'll probably go to her handspring front pike that's "higher than any I've seen, and she sticks that puppy cold," Cattermole says.

New Mexico is in an interesting situation, having just changed coaches in the past few weeks with former assistant Matt Arnot taking over as interim coach. This meet could have a bearing on the future of the program. Boise State is having its best season and set team records in all team and individual categories, but the Broncos' high is 191.9. Denver's best is 187.6.