Injuries, graduations take toll as gymnasts lose to No. 5 Utah
By Wade Denniston
Losing a top all-arounder (Amber Jamison) and three other seniors (Krissy Richards, Kim Richards and Laurie Cannon) last year, then having junior Jessenia Abrego tear her anterior cruciate ligament during practice two weeks ago, was too much for the 21st-ranked Utah State University women's gymnastics team to overcome against the fifth-ranked University of Utah Friday night at the Huntsman Center.
The Aggies, who started out strong by scoring a 48.450 on the bars, still fell to the Utes 195.650-190.375, in the season opener for both teams.
Senior Christy Denson, who broke her arm in September, led the way for USU by scoring a 38.700 in the all-around, good enough for fourth place.
Utah sophomore phenom Theresa Kulikowski was able to capture her 10th all-around title of her career with a 39.40 total.
However, Kulikowski got off to a slow start in the meet by recording just a 9.725 on the vault, her lowest score of the four events. Kulikowski admitted she was a bit nervous at the start of the competition in seeing 9,336 fans pack the arena. She was able to overcome her shaky start, though.
"I just had to override the (pressure) with some better thoughtsthat this was our first meet and not our last," Kulikowski told The Salt Lake Tribune.
After a solid showing on the bars, USU did well on the vault and floor also, recording a 47.550 and a 47.975, respectively. But it was their final routine, the beam, that did the Aggies in.
Suffering three falls, Utah State could count just a 46.400 on the beam, led by sophomore's Kirra Degener's 9.750.
Despite the outcome of the meet, Aggie head coach Ray Corn was excited of his team's effort.
"I am extremely pleased," Corn said. "We hit three out of the four events really well. Considering the youth and lack of experience we have on this team, I think the day just caught up with us at the end." Fifteen of USU's 23 routines were performed by freshmen or gymnasts with just one season of experience.
Along with Abrego (out for the year) not being able to compete, freshman Kristen Bloom was not able to go because of an injury sustained during warmups, and Tina Ellis tried to compete after suffering an injury on the floor during warmups.
Utah State's next meet will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Spectrum vs. Big West Conference rival Boise State University.
"Now it's time to go back to the drawing board and get ready for our
home opener against Boise State," Corn said.