SEATTLE — The earth was still shaking in Seattle on Sunday afternoon. At least the part of the earth that the Utah gymnastics team was trying to use to do floor exercise.
Third-ranked Utah could not get used to a bouncy floor-exercise apparatus at the University of Washington, and one Ute fell while two others stepped out of bounds, opening the door for 23rd-ranked Washington to pull off the biggest tie in its history.
Despite Utah's shaking on the floor, the meet came down to the final competitor, Washington's Mandi Klug, on floor. She could tie the score with a perfect 10, something she'd never done and which the Huskies had done only once in their history.
Klug was awarded the 10, and UW tied the Utes at 196.725. Both defeated Western Michigan (194.075), the team that was atop the Space Needle last Wednesday during the 6.8 Seattle earthquake.
It's just the fourth tie in Ute history and the first since 1996, when Utah and Georgia tied for third at the NCAA championships. It left Utah's record at 8-1-1. Washington is 10-5-1, and Western Michigan is 7-7.
Ute coach Greg Marsden was concerned last week over lackluster practices following three straight pressure meets; his fears were somewhat realized Sunday. "We did a very nice job on bars and beam," he said. "But we were all over the place on the floor. The floor here has a different bounce that our athletes just could not get used to. We finished up with a pretty nice vault (49.10)."
Junior Lindsay Tanner vaulted for the first time this season and had a career-high 9.775 as Utah's leadoff. Other top scores for Utah were a 9.95 beam from Shannon Bowles and 9.925 beam and bars by Theresa Kulikowski.
"But we let the meet get away from us on the floor (48.85)," said Marsden. Washington had a school-record 49.50 on floor.
"Washington did a nice job," said Marsden. "I felt that to win up here we'd have to be crisp and clean on every event. We weren't as crisp as I would have expected from a Utah team." Utah is 28-0-1 against UW.
The Utes had a slight slipup on beam, too, when Kylee Wagner went through her routine too quickly and was docked 0.1 point for being short on the time limit. With the 0.2 deductions for Bowles and Theresa Wolf stepping out of bounds, Utah gave away 0.3. Freshman Melissa Vituj's fall on floor didn't count toward the team score and was the only fall of the afternoon for Utah, which had a nice lead through the first two events (98.775-98.025) and was still up 147.625-147.225 after the messy floor performance.
Vault is usually Utah's lowest-scoring event, and floor is Washington's best. The Utes did well on vault, but the Huskies set school records on floor for the tie.
The 196.725 road score was Utah's second-best of the season and will elevate the team's Regional Qualifying Score toward this week's rankings.
Utah hosts Oregon State Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.
AGGIES PLACE THIRD: Utah State's gymnastics team found the going rough, recording its second lowest score of the season in a four-team meet hosted by UCLA on Sunday. With a 192.275, the Aggies finished third behind top-ranked UCLA (197.700) and 15th-ranked California (195.025), but placed ahead of Big West rival UC Santa Barbara (188.575).
The top-ranked Bruins were nearly flawless in recording their best score this season. A UCLA gymnast finished first and second in every event, including the floor exercise where three Bruins scored perfect 10s.
Utah State was paced by Nicole Kilpatrick, who scored a 9.775 on the vault to finish fourth and a 9.775 to finish eighth on the bars en route to placing fifth in the overall with a score of 38.800.
USU scored a 48.900 on the floor for its third-best mark this season in that event, but once again struggled on the beam.