Brad Cattermole, sixth-year coach of BYU's women's gymnastics team, likes close and exciting regular-season meets that pressure his athletes to perform. He likes the kind of pressure they'll feel during the NCAA postseason meets, "So you go into regionals ready to do something," he says.

In his tenure at BYU, Cattermole has scheduled home-and-home meets yearly with Utah and Georgia, the most successful college women's gym programs ever, both unbeaten this season and ranked No. 1 (Georgia) and No. 2 (Utah, the defending NCAA champ). BYU, 1-1, moved up to 13th in the latest rankings. Cattermole always thought it would be fun to host Utah and Georgia at once for "a super get-down-and-go-for-it" tri-meet, but he thought Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan and Utah's Greg Marsden would balk.He was wrong.

When the circumstance arose that the best time for BYU to host Utah and/or Georgia was Friday night in the Marriott Center, Cattermole invited both to BYU the same night. They didn't mind a bit.

And so Friday's monster meet, the biggest gym event the Cougars have ever held, became reality. Cattermole says estimates on the crowd range from 10,000 to 14,000. A 15,239+ figure would break Utah's NCAA regular-season record.

Marsden says some Ute fans have told him they don't want to attend and help BYU break the U.'s record. He tells them he'd love to see 20,000 because it would boost the sport - his interest.

"There's going to be great gymnastics," says Marsden. "Three great programs, some of the best gymnasts in the country. It's going to be one of the best meets in the country this year."

Nine-time national champ Utah, three-time NCAA champ Georgia (favored for a fourth in April when the finals are held in Athens, Ga.) and a home team that was close to beating Utah in the Marriott Center last year even if Marsden hadn't pulled his team off the floor in a dispute with the meet referee. BYU won 194.125-125.800, Utah withdrawing after 21/2 events.

This meet features six of the NCAA's top 11 all-arounders: Georgia's Lori Strong (1) Agina Simpkins (4) Utah's Suzanne Metz (5) Traci Sommer (6) and Sandy Woolsey (10) and BYU's Nanette Walker (11).

And it features any number of prime-time subplots. Among them:

- The rivalries, Utah vs. Georgia in gymnastics, BYU vs. Utah in anything.

- Georgia's dual-meet win streak of 37 straight and the first regular-season Utah-Georgia meet since 1991.

- Some of the NCAA's brightest freshmen in Georgia's Kim Arnold and Julie Ballard and Utah's Sommer.

- Comeback kids like Ute senior Aimee Trepanier, seven-time All-American who missed preseason training with a bulging spinal disc and debuted for 1995 Saturday, scoring 9.85 on balance beam at Arizona (competing Friday is entirely up to her); and BYU junior Cassie Pauga, back in three events (bars, beam, floor) after missing most of 1994 with sprained ligaments in both knees.

- Georgia's quest for perfect 10s; Leah Brown and Simpkins have 10s this season, Strong hit 9.975. Utah's Woolsey scored 9.95, and Metz and Megan Caudle 9.925s - all on the road.

- The reception Marsden will get in the Marriott. "I know I'm going to get booed when they introduce me," Marsden says. "I don't blame them. I probably deserve it. I won't pull my team off the floor, I guarantee you that," he says. He's learned, "You've got to be careful about leadership. I was wrong." But similar ingredients will be present - Utah will again start on beam, the worst place. Also, BYU athletic director Lu Wallace insists on having a meet referee, said Cattermole, and it will again be Wendy Atkinson, the state's top judge who assigns judges to meets. Cattermole says Atkinson tried to find somebody else to referee, but no one wanted the job.

- Teams that are polar-opposites in styles and squad sizes.

Georgia, with 10 strong athletes, believes in going for broke, competing on the edge every meet and getting used to it. That sometimes means falls; the Gymdogs had nine falls at Kentucky Jan. 20 - and still won.

Because of injuries and retirement, BYU has seven gymnasts on a good day and has battled flu all week, and Utah has seven athletes unless Trepanier helps on beam. Utah also has had flu this week.

The in-state clubs favor a cautious, building approach; this year, there's no choice. Friday night, they will do what they can do. Utah scored 194.825 to win at Arizona last weekend being cautious; BYU hit 192.30 to beat Southern Utah last weekend without hurting anyone.

Marsden says Utah will "focus on the big picture" and not worry about matching Georgia score-for-score as it would in the NCAA finals. "Under other circumstances, we may have had that luxury," says Marsden. "We need to be healthy and do what is appropriate," he says. Especially since Utah has three meets in eight days and several athletes are already sore.

Cattermole's club will be careful but "hope to have a really good meet and fight it out with them," he says, going back to the experience thing. "It's hard to practice what you can't simulate," he says. with two big-time playmates, this is the perfect opportunity for BYU to grow.