BYU's Natalie Emig got engaged Wednesday night, so her coach Brad Cattermole says, "She'll be a stylin' gymnast at the meet."
Emig and her teammates need to be stylin'. The 1-1 Cougars are at 2-1 Utah tonight at 7 in the Huntsman Center, and the Utes are coming off their season-high score (194.50), which maintained their No. 2 national ranking despite two falls and a near-fall on balance beam Monday at Utah State. The Utes have a 141-meet, 18-year home-winning streak in regular-season competition. Utah is 57-1 vs. the Y., 26-0 at home.Plus, the No. 22 Cougs lost two top gymnasts in six days to season-ending injuries, the latest on Tuesday when maybe its top bars-worker, Leah Jacobs, had elbow surgery after a practice mishap on floor. Last Thursday, Erin Johnson ruptured an anterior cruciate knee ligament in practice.
Utah, too, has had two long-term injuries (Summer Reid, torn calf muscle; Jenny Schmidt, torn patellar tendon), though they happened in the preseason.
Both clubs seem able to absorb the miseries.
"Had it happened a couple of years ago," Cattermole says, "it would have decimated us." Not now. "We're not out for the count," he says, even occasionally mentioning the word "win" with regard to tonight's meet, though the objective - for both teams - is more to line up all the ducks toward having good postseason, as always.
BYU is also coming off a season high at USU (194.175 on Jan. 30), but that's not hard. Its only other score was 187.625 at Oregon State, where BYU had 19 falls, 14 to count. It had four falls, two counting, at USU.
Having just had a meet Monday, and having had 21/2 falls on their last event, the beam, the Utes have taken practices easy this week. Coach Greg Marsden doesn't talk much to his gymnasts about the falls, believing it's like a batting slump, and the more you press, the worse it gets. "I think we'll resolve this," he says.
After all, beam for the last several years has been Utah's strongest event, and it was the best beam team in the country the past two years.
Junior Sarah Northrop has cracked the vault and bars lineups and will be first up in both those events. It will be her first competition of the year. She's known for her steadiness in being the leadoff competitor in many U. meets. The bar lineup is changing after Utah had its highest score of 1998 on any apparatus on bars at USU, 49.175. But Northrop earned the right with an exhibition routine, which was better than one that counted Monday, Marsden says.