Nebraska is a very good team. We’ve got to be at our, or near our best to win this meet. – Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah gymnastics team is home for a third-straight meet, and this may be the toughest of them all. The seventh-ranked Red Rocks welcome No. 6 Nebraska to the Huntsman Center Friday at 7 p.m.
The Huskers nearly upset No. 1 Florida last week, falling 196.95-196.825 at home. In the meet, Nebraska captured three event wins and boasted the two all-around winners in Jessie DeZiel and Emily Wong at 39.45. DeZiel and Wong rank third and fourth nationally in the all-around.
The opening events could be a tell-all for the meet as Nebraska is coming off a season-best 49.35 bars' score, while Utah had a season-high 49.425 on vault in its win over Oregon State last week.
"Nebraska is a very good team," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden. "We've got to be at our, or near our best to win this meet."
The Red Rocks, who have struggled of late to string together a solid overall meet, spent the week mixing things up in practice.
"At this point in the season, practice get monotonous so we are trying to keep things fresh," said Marsden.
Senior Stephanie McAllister said the team was going to work on more pressure situations to help with the mental aspect of putting together a solid meet like they did earlier in the season.
Marsden is concerned that his young team has let expectations get in the way of its success. At the first of the season, Utah didn't know how good it could be because of its youth. But achieving and holding the No. 1 ranking for a couple of weeks brought extra attention and pressure.
"We just need to relax and train like we want, and then compete like we train," said Marsden. "These are competitive people who want success and to win, but we need to not focus on the outcome and instead focus on what we can control."
Utah has a difficult stretch to finish the season. Nebraska is its last regular-season home opponent and then it's off to top-ranked Florida before returning for two postseason meets in the Huntsman Center.
"We want to measure ourselves against who is going be at the championships," said Marsden.
Utah will have Corrie Lothrop, who has a team-high 10 event wins, back at full force Friday. Lothrop hurt her arm and has trained sporadically and struggled some in her past two meets after a great season start.
Top 10 matchup
No. 6 Nebraska at No. 7 Utah
Friday, 7 p.m.