Red Rocks win 1,000 under Marsden

S-Gym Colby Patterson
Red Rocks attack co-head coach Greg Marsden with silly string after his 1,000th win. Photo courtesy of University of Utah Athletics.

Red Rocks attack co-head coach Greg Marsden with silly string after his 1,000th win. Photo courtesy of University of Utah Athletics.

Back in 1976, a graduate student named Greg Marsden was tasked with leading a fledgling gymnastics squad at the U because a new law said the university needed to have more teams for women.

Armed with just a bit of experience in the sport, Marsden built the program from scratch. Ten national titles later, the Red Rocks are one of the most feared teams in the nation.

On Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., the program reached another major milestone as Marsden coached Utah to the 1,000th win in program history. The Red Rocks buried Arizona State in impressive fashion, 197.200 – 194.900.

“It feels great,” Marsden said about the 1,000th win. “I’m a little uncomfortable with all the attention to me, because I feel like it’s a celebration to what our program has accomplished. We have had great athletes, coaches, administration and especially fan support. I’ve been the guy with the keys, but so many people are responsible.”

Such was the case Saturday, as Utah earned a season-high score en route to victory. Perhaps most importantly, the Red Rocks did not have to count a fall for the first time on the season. In the first meet of the year, they had to include one on bars, while they had to count a bad beam score in the previous two meets before last weekend. Breanna Hughes did fall off the beam Saturday, but the rest of the lineup was solid.

“I was really pleased with the meet,” Marsden said. “A lot of good things happened throughout the meet, but the most impressive was when we finished on balance beam. When our first girl has a fall and what has happened the last couple of weeks, they really stepped up and did a marvelous job.”

Perhaps part of the success on beam came as a result of reshuffling the lineup. Corrie Lothrop anchored the event for the first time this season and produced a season-high 9.950 to help the Red Rocks eclipse the 197 mark.

“There was pressure, but for me, I like to compete on beam and do it like I always do,” Lothrop said. “I don’t like to put pressure on myself and I like to go out there and have fun, so the earlier fall didn’t really have an effect on me. I approach every routine with the same mind-set.”

The mind-set of Lothrop and the other gymnasts proved to work, as the team scored a season best 49.275 on beam.

“It was a big step forward for us and seeing it end on beam like that was the most rewarding thing for me today,” Marsden said.

After the win, gymnasts bombarded Marsden with silly string to celebrate their coach’s unparalleled accomplishment.

Despite all of the good things that happened Saturday, the Red Rocks aren’t yet satisfied with where they’re at as a team. Though Utah didn’t have to count any major mistakes, it wasn’t quite as sharp on vault, bars and floor as it has been up to this point.

“We are going to go back and keep working on the little things,” Lothrop said. “It’s not going to be easy, otherwise we would already be doing it, but we will go home and work on our routines and tune them up and get ready for this weekend.”

The Red Rocks will take on Arizona this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. There will be a pre-meet celebration of Marsden’s 1,000th win, and fans are encouraged to get there early to participate.

g.adams@chronicle.utah.edu