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EXPLOSION HITS HOME FOR Y. GYMNAST

A BYU teammate told freshman Jessica Young about the explosion in her hometown of Oklahoma City, so she watched some of the news coverage on television, then called home. Her family is safe. Her father, Wayne, the former Y. and U.S. Olympic gym star and Cougar men's coach, is a doctor and went downtown to help.

That postponed until later Jessica's parents' planned trip to Georgia to see their daughter perform tonight in the NCAA Championships, but they will be here, she says.

BYU (10th) is an even seed and performs in the evening session today starting at 5 MDT. Utah and other teams and at-large all-arounders with odd seeds, began performing in the 11 a.m. MDT session today. The top three from each session advance to Friday's Super Six championships.

CBS-TV is scheduled to broadcast tape-delayed meet highlights Saturday, April 29, 1 p.m. MDT.

Sandy's Megan Fenton, the Hillcrest High product now a senior with UCLA, injured a shoulder during the Pac 10 meet and will probably be held to beam and maybe vault in her final meet, said Bruin coach Valorie Kondos.

UCLA sophomore teammate Kristin Harmell competed, mostly on bars, for a year (1992) at BYU.

At Wednesday's press conferences, Ute senior Suzanne Metz, the No. 1-ranked all-arounder in the NCAA and the NCAA record-holder (39.95), was asked about her perfect string this season. She is 48-for-48 as far as "hitting" routines this season. "That's what I hear," Metz said coolly.

She was asked how she'd done it. Coach Greg Marsden whispered to her to say, "Great coaching," so she did. She was asked if she could keep the streak going in the NCAAs. She said she doesn't worry about that. "I'm not going to base my whole career on hitting one routine or missing one routine," she said.

Talk at the press conference centered on the fact that more teams are in contention than ever and that a UCLA, Michigan or LSU could finally crack the Big Three (Alabama, Georgia, Utah) or even win.

A reporter asked Marsden how Alabama, Georgia and Utah have stayed on top all these years (Utah has eight NCAA titles, Georgia three and Alabama two; no one else has any.)

Marsden replied that Tide coach Sarah Patterson, Gymdog coach Suzanne Yoculan and himself share a passion for excellence in the sport. "I have a great deal of respect for those two people," said Marsden, noting the three coaches do what's necessary, including most of the promotion, in addition to coaching. "I know how hard they have worked - I still sweep floors if it needs to be done," he said.

"Sarah handles her passion better than Suzanne and I," Marsden joked, referring to the way he and Yoculan have been reprimanded by school, conference and/or NCAA for their passion-fueled comments and actions.

Marsden said other schools are realizing the potential of women's gymnastics and beginning to build programs with good facilities and support services, bringing about the fledgling parity everyone was talking about Wednesday.

Marsden also said he hates to think about it, but the best thing for the sport would be for the nouveau riche to supplant "one of these three - or all three," in the championships.

Georgia got good news and bad news Wednesday. Freshman Julie Ballard, initially diagnosed Monday with a broken neck after a practice fall but later told her neck wasn't broken after all, returned to practice Wednesday, and Yoculan said she would go all-around this afternoon. But sophomore Leah Brown was in an auto accident Tuesday evening and was iffy for today.

That added to an already strange season of suspensions, injuries and other problems for Georgia.

Yoculan said several years ago she caught Agina Simpkins clowning on the bars in warmup and railed at the team that gymnastics isn't a circus, and the Gymdogs should be serious about winning. Yoculan has used that not-a-circus phrase often since then.

But Wednesday she said, "Even though I've preached that gymnastics is not a circus, this year Georgia gymnastics has been a circus. It's been not only a roller coaster and merry-go-round but a juggling act. The best thing is that a circus entertains you, makes you laugh, makes you cry and keeps you on the edge of your seat, and Georgia gymnastics will do that this weekend."