Nothing like a Utah-BYU athletic event to wake everybody up, especially when both teams feel they've got to redeem themselves.
Perfect gymnastics scores aren't supposed to happen under the new scoring rules, but Ute freshman Shannon Bowles came flawlessly off the beam Friday night in the Huntsman Center to find the first 10.0 of her life waiting for her."I just felt really on tonight," Bowles said. "I'm still new to the whole college scoring thing and didn't know what to expect."
Bowles totaled 39.60 in the all-around to not only win but post the eighth-best all-around score in Utah history.
The No. 2-ranked Utes, clearly "on" from their first vault, a 9.8 by Sarah Northrop in her first competitive event of the season, rolled to their high score of the season, 196.825. For the first time this season, they scored 49-plus on all four events, led by 49.35s on bars and beam.
Meanwhile, injury-plagued No. 22 BYU made its own steady improvements to get its best of the season, 194.875, as it rebounds from its first meet, a 19-fall outing at Oregon State.
The Cougars still made some mistakes, like a freshman forgetting to do an actual beam dismount with 11,468 people watching her. But BYU lost a top athlete Tuesday to elbow surgery after a practice accident, and Friday night, it lost freshman Angie Hickman to what appeared to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during the floor exercise. Hickman still finished her floor routine and scored 9.7.
BYU coach Brad Cattermole says she's the Cougars' third season-ending injury in the past nine days.
Leading the Cougar effort was senior Angie Andersen with 9.85 on bars and 9.825s on beam and floor.
After losing the all-around at Utah State on Monday, the Utes came back with junior Angie Leonard following Bowles at 39.275 and sophomore Denise Jones, hitting all four events for the first time this season, scoring 39.25, a career high. All three scores would have been notable even under last year's more-lenient scoring rules.
Perhaps best of all, the Utes didn't have a fall. Not on beam where they'd fallen three times at Michigan and twice at USU, and not on anything else, either. "It was a big relief to hit a beam set like we're capable," said U. coach Greg Marsden. "It's what I've been expecting all year. It should be one of our strongest events."
In Bowles, Marsden sees Ute NCAA-champion beamwalkers Missy Marlowe and Summer Reid (out for much of this season with a torn calf muscle). "She's in the same vein in that she's very aggressive and confident. Her execution is flawless, and she does everything big," he says.
Leonard said that when Bowles alighted cleanly as Utah's last beamwalker of the night, "it was a big relief on all of us. We were frustrated because we can do it."
Jones tied Molly Northrop with 9.9s to win bars, both career highs, Bowles won vault (9.925) and beam (10.0), and freshman Theresa Wolf grabbed the floor title (9.85).
"We were there as a team tonight," said Jones. "We've been a good team, but tonight we got it together."
"The falls (at USU) upset the entire team, and we decided it wasn't going to happen anymore," said Leonard, noting also that, when it's against the Y., "It's just more fun for us."
"I think we've been frustrated a bit," said Marsden. "It's good to be back in our place, and it's good to beat BYU," he said, adding, "after two events, it was still anybody's meet (98.45-97.775). It will be a tough meet for us to win down there, I guarantee."
"We've still got places to make improvements," said Cattermole, "but we're doing a lot of really good things - not quite as good as in practices, but we're getting there. The positive thing is, we don't have any one person carrying the show. I was really pleased with quite a bit."
Y. junior Natalie Emig said that, not having had a home meet yet, it was probably startling for BYU's freshmen to be amid a big, loud crowd for the first time.
Freshman Kelly Christensen (9.85 bars to tie Andersen as Y.-high) said, "It was crazy to go from club (where parents are the only spectators) to such a crowd. It was a little adjustment.